The Power of Transferable Skills emboldens the Mature Professional in Transition
By Edith Moricz
The job-search process is like a seesaw: When it is balanced – when your approach is working – you receive timely and positive feedback. You enjoy follow up from hiring managers, HR departments, and/or recruiters – and not discouraging silence. You see yourself building strategic connections through your networking.
You feel momentum and it is encouraging!
This balanced mode requires that you are properly positioning your talents, skills, expertise, enthusiasm, and experiences so that they are a fit with job descriptions that interest you. As a result, the market (organizations, HR departments, hiring managers) sees value in your expertise. You are effectively connecting the dots between what job descriptions require and how your skills and job experiences meet (or exceed) these needs.
But when your job-search effort is off balance, frustration mounts. The seesaw tips to one side. Your self-confidence ruptures with each encounter when your approach to showcasing your skills and your past work experiences is ineffective. Specifically, when a hiring manager doesn’t understand how you can play a key role in an organization. And also when you experience the silence – a profoundly discouraging message of lack of interest when you don’t hear back in a timely fashion from an organization where you have applied.
As a result, the job-search process can become a vicious circle, especially for mature professionals age 50 plus. You begin to doubt yourself and, specifically… your talent. You struggle with explaining how your skills and experiences are a fit with job descriptions. This leads to anxiety as to how you can translate your career path into a meaningful, persuasive dialogue about: 1) how your skills relate to the job’s goals and mission and 2) how your story (in an exciting, meaningful way) illustrates your interest in the company, its vision, its leadership, and its long-term goals.
The secret sauce for identifying your transferable skills
So here is the secret to landing your dream job during the majority of times when identifying transferable skills is a core requirement: The secret is to provide a description of your life story, and the challenges you met along your path to where you are today, in a way that demonstrates how these have prepared you in important, significant ways for this job. The dots all connect along your professional-life experience path till the resulting line intersects with the requirements of the job in a way that is convincing, persuasive, and genuine.
Here, then, are three important questions about transferable skills and my answers to them:
What is the most common source of frustration? Understanding what your transferable skills are when shifting into a new industry. Presenting what these transferable skills are and citing specific experiences of how you made an impact in the organizations you have worked for are effective ways to showcase your accomplishments. Transferable skills also can help diminish the importance of gaps in your work history because they show the skills and abilities you used during important life events, such as raising children, taking on caregiving duties for elderly parents, and supporting a spouse in his/her career advancement. This also highlights your own values and beliefs while illustrating your skills and talents to a potential employer.
What is the biggest source of lack of self-confidence? Understanding HOW to apply transferable skills when shifting industries or explaining work history gaps is critical. It is important to recognize the shared requirements between the industry or industries you used to work in and the one where you now want to work, and show how this has prepared you for succeeding in a new job.
What is the one area that has the largest influence in your approach to your job search? Transferable skills and how you highlight yours in connection with what you’ve accomplished in your career path are among the biggest secrets to landing your dream job. You need, as best you can, to show how your transferrable skills mirror the required skill sets of the job description.
The three pillars of my own career coaching program are:
- What do you love to do?
- What do you excel at?
- What type of culture/organization best values your talents and experience?
Your response to the following questions, and your positioning of your transferable skills to showcase how they fit in with the job description, will be the hallmark of how you land your dream job. It will be your unique expression of your talents.
Questions to ask yourself:
- How have I made an impact in the industries in which I have worked? How have I made an impact at the organizations where I have worked?
- What is unique about my skills and talent? How specifically (quantify/qualify) have I made an impact with my expertise and experience?
With mature workers, self-confidence typically takes a hit when they change Industries or feel stuck in their careers. There is a loss of realization of their broader talents.
The fact is, you have decades of experience and expertise. You have judgement skills earned by experience on the job that most younger professionals don’t possess. You also have energy and enthusiasm. At this point you are “comfortable in your own skin.” And that’s all because you have talent and skills you’ve perfected over decades.
During my job transition several years ago, my 20+ years as a financial advisor, philanthropic advisor, educator, and mentor to non-traditional students in diverse populations led me to career coaching. First, a temporary assignment led to a contract position, which led to referrals from my network which then, essentially, launched my custom-career coaching program. The thread that tied my skills, talent, passion, and work experiences to career coaching were:
- My diligence and my relationship-building skills. Much of my process for understanding and assessing each of my clients’ challenges, needs, skills, and passions stems from my training at Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor.
- My problem-solving strategies.
- My communication skills. Effective fundraising is based on strategic planning, impeccable writing skills, and powerful verbal storytelling. These areas are among my greatest passions, so sharing these with my clients is an honor and privilege,
- My IT skills. Consulting projects referred to me throughout the years required an efficient, high-value-added approach that I’ve been sharing with my clients, and operational efficiencies (built during my multiple industry exposure).
- My mentoring skills. I have mentored many students at a variety of colleges throughout Massachusetts.
A few final words
You are an observer of your industry and your own workplace. You have accumulated the wisdom that comes from decades of doing and witnessing.
Therefore, the time is now to leverage your decades of work experience and your varied and diverse career path by illustrating specifically how your talent and transferable skills have enabled you to make a significant impact on the organizations you proudly served.
Be confident. Be enthusiastic. Highlight how your experiences match needs described on job descriptions for positions for which you are applying.
This is the power of transferable skills. Don’t hesitate to use this power!
Edith Moricz is president & CEO of rocketYOUR nonprofit. She is a career coach, fundraising coach, adjunct professor, and author. Edith began her career as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. For 13 years, she was a philanthropic advisor, doing fundraising for local and national charities. Then she began coaching non-profit leaders and their teams on maintaining a healthy cash flow. She currently provides on-site and remote coaching to non-profits around the country. She was named LinkedIn’s Best Career Coach in 2017. Edith can be reached at 617 755 1772 or on LinkedIn.