Use your existing skills to change careers

Use your existing skills to change careers

If you find yourself feeling stuck in a job that does not satisfy you, or feed into your passions, it may be time to look for a career that will make you happy. What happens if that requires you to change career paths into a new industry?  That’s where transferable skills come in! Transferable skills are sets of skills that can be acquired in one role and applied easily in another role. They can either be technical or general and can be used in a variety of industries. These types of skills are necessary to help you embark on a journey of changing from one career to another.

So how do you go about using your existing skills to change careers?

Conduct a skills inventory

The first and very important aspect to focus on is skills inventory. Work on a personal inventory of your skills. Make a list of all the skills you have and all the career options you are interested in getting into. When creating this list of skills, you should group them into categories, as follows:

  • Basic skillsBasic skills would be skills such as communication. This refers to how well you communicate through writing and speaking, and how you convey information to others and engage with information given to you by others. Listening skills also fall into this group and are important for demonstrating how well you listen to instructions and carry them out, learning new procedures, and processing information that is given to you
  • People skillsPeople skills are closely linked to the above, as they deal with how you interact with people. People skills include the ability to develop relationships with different types of people, the ability to build customer relationships and the ability to resolve conflicts. Negotiation skills and the ability to provide constructive feedback also form part of this list.
  • Computer skillsIn the age of technology, computer skills are important for most fields of work. These skills include the ability to use the internet, e-mail, and search engines. Being able to install and use relevant software and being able to troubleshoot problems with hardware are also important to add to your list of skills under this category.
  • Management skillsManagement skills are all about your ability to lead, mentor, oversee, and review. These skills also include supervising, delegating, presiding over meetings, negotiating, and organising. In management, you may have also acquired skills such as scheduling and budgeting, among others.
  • Job-specific skillsUnder the category of job-specific skills, you should make a list of all the skills you have acquired from all the jobs you have had before. List any systems you used and what competencies you acquired, as well as what your responsibilities were. Under this category, you can also add both hard and soft skills, as well as technical skills that you used in your jobs.

Matching your skills to change careers

The secret to successfully changing careers using your transferable skills is the ability to sell yourself to your prospective employers. Ensure that you start by customising your CV to suit the position that you are applying for. Highlight the skills that suit the position you are applying for and make it clear in your cover letter how these skills will work for the new position. Be sure to make the connections between your skills and the requirements of the new position very clear by showing how your transferable skills make you suitable for the position. And lastly, always give examples of your achievements and any projects you headed up at your previous jobs.

Changing careers is no easy task, but it also doesn’t always have to mean starting at the bottom. Using your transferable skills to change careers ensures that you are able to use the skills you have gained throughout your career to make the transition into the new career.

Remember to start by creating an inventory of your skills and grouping them into categories. Once you have grouped your skills, it will be easier to match the skills to the requirements of the job you are interested in. Ensure that you make the connections between your skills and the requirements of the job, and you should be well on your way to starting your new career!

Next step: Get ready for your interview by reading more about how to answer 9 of the most difficult interview questions.

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