Career Changers: Determine What Your Transferable Skills Are

National Experts in Resume Writing & Career Coaching

Career Changers: Determine What Your Transferable Skills Are

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Choosing to change your career path is not always an easy decision, especially if it means having to start from the ground up again. That’s a sacrifice that many who are changing careers must face. The better you can translate transferable skills to the employer, the better positioned you are to enter your potential new career.

Looking at it from the employer’s perspective, would you hire someone who doesn’t have the experience and/or skills for the job? It’s unlikely. So, as a career changer, it’s important to find ways to relate to the employer and inform them that you are a capable professional for the job. This is where your transferable skills come in. They are the skills you may have picked up or excelled in during your former career, or through training and volunteer work that may also have value to your new career.

The key to determining the appropriate transferable skills for your new career involves knowing what can and cannot be used in the new profession. The mission is NOT to list every single skill you’ve honed, but to only include in the resume what’s truly valuable and relevant to the prospective employer in the new profession.

Here’s some tips to determining appropriate transferable skills to include on the resume when you’re changing careers:

  • Identify the skills the new employer will value
    This process is very much like a card game of Go Fish. You have a stack of cards (those being your skills) and the employer has a stack of cards (skills it is looking for from candidates). You are both on the mission to find a match in your respective cards. Read into the job description and do some research on the key skills to have for the new career.
  • Test if the skills you have are transferable
    Now that you’ve identified the skills that matter from the previous step, test and see if you can make a valid case. The point is to show that you’ve been using key skills on the job, even though it may be under a different type of setting. If you can fill in the statement below and come off as an even more qualified candidate for the job, go for it on the resume:As a/an [fill in old profession], I [what did you do], which taught me [fill in the blank]. This is a skill I can use in [new career] because [fill in the blank].
  • Additional training/education
    Not all career paths allow for an easy transition and it may be necessary to complete additional training or education before putting yourself in front of prospective employers. Be prepared for that because some professions you may need it. In certain cases, the transferable skills you have may not be enough. For more tips, also read: “Tips to Easing into a Career Change.”
  • Other tips to writing the career-changer resume
    Work with words and language common and familiar to the prospective employer of your new career when writing the resume. It’s easy stick to jargon and use abbreviations from your previous career, but for anyone who’s not in that profession or industry, they may not understand what you are conveying. Keep information and words understandable to the employer you’re sending the resume to. For example, someone who’s not in the same industry or profession as you may not know that CMS means Content Management System, or that DNS means Domain Name System. Put them in simplified terms so that anyone can understand it.

Writing the resume for a career change is drastically different from writing the resume for someone who’s dedicated time and who is staying in the same profession. Everything on the resume needs to be tweaked and appropriately positioned for the new career. Your Headline and Summary Paragraph especially need attention (read: “Starting a New Career: Resume Tips for the Headline & Summary Paragraph”). Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional resume writer, especially when you’re going in for a career change.