Many candidates who come to us for resume help have the same question. They have years of professional work experience, but a lot of it isn't relevant to the position they're currently seeking. On the one hand, they don't want to waste resume space detailing work that doesn't relate to their application. On the other hand, they don't want to omit years of work that developed them as a professional. Related: How To Write A Resume That Helps You Land Your First Job How do you mentioned unrelated work experience on your resume?
So, you’re ready to move on in your career. The problem? You have little to no experience in your new chosen field. While formal training and education may boost your appeal for prospective employers, you probably already possess many of the skills they’re looking for. Related: 5 Transferable Skills Job Seekers Need “Transferable skills” are the capabilities you’ve learned and demonstrated in your current role that also apply to the new role. Typically, transferable skills are soft skills—those dealing with people, communication, creativity, problem solving, and leadership, for example. Hard skills are technical or procedural, and they’re a little harder (though not impossible) to transfer from one career to another. When shaping your resume and cover letter and prepping for interviews, you want to identify transferable skills and highlight them. Here’s how to do it.
1. Identify What You NeedTake a look at the job descriptions in your new chosen field. What skills and qualifications are they seeking? Visit professional associations and conduct informational interviews to gather additional, underpublicized information about the role and/or industry.
2. Identify What You HaveNext, look at what you offer and see how things line up. Here’s where it gets tricky. There might not be a perfect, easy-to-see match, and that’s okay. You are free to be creative here. Start by looking at your work experience. Examine every aspect of your role including day-to-day responsibilities, projects in which you played a part, and various tasks you handled. Then, break down the steps involved and identify the combination of skills that each required. And finally, compare your list of skills to the list of desired skills and see where there’s overlap. Those are your transferable skills. For example: As a sous-chef, Jon was responsible for prepping the kitchen, managing inventory, and supervising the kitchen staff, among other things. Jon is now interested in changing his career path and he’s set his sights on an entry-level position in the marketing department of a busy real estate firm. He has identified the following transferable skills:
- Time Management
- Project Management
- Team Work
- Quick Decision-making
- Composure Under Pressure
- Ability to Motivate Others
- Budget Management
- School experience
- Volunteer work
- Other life experiences
- Budget Management
- Travel Planning
- Cultural Awareness
- Time Management
- Customer Service
- Project Management
How To Use Your Transferable SkillsWhether identifying your transferable skills in a cover letter, resume, or interview, it’s important to cite specific examples of when and how the skills were used. Prospective employers aren’t interested in generic statements. They need proof. Some career advisors recommend using a “skills resume” or “functional resume” when you’re relying on transferable skills more than experience in the field. However, these resumes tend to send up red flags for prospective employers, as they can appear to hide information. I recommend, if at all possible, using the typical chronological format while still focusing on the transferable skills you demonstrated in each of your previous positions. Write a knock-it-outta-the-park cover letter that describes your passion for this new field and why your unusual background makes you uniquely qualified. And then get out there and network. When you’re breaking into a new field with little to no experience, you’re better off relying on non-traditional job search methods. This article was originally published on an earlier date.
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It's not easy to transition into another industry, but the process isn't complicated. If you're wondering how to change jobs with little to no experience, then read on. Related: 8 Steps To Changing Jobs With A Current Employer When you're applying for a job in a new industry, putting information from another job that is unrelated is going to raise a red flag for any potential employer. They're going to ask why you were in the other job for so long instead of switching to this industry earlier. If you're younger, it's easier to pull off, but the question may still come up. With that thought in mind, there's not always a way to craft your resume that will get you hired for the job you want. You can still convince them to hire you, but it won't be solely because of your resume. You have to strategize on a higher level. Make sure the resume isn't the main focus of your pitch, especially online. People should come across other stories and documents about you first to give you the best shot at getting the job or being seriously considered. If they see your resume first, they'll probably disqualify you pretty quickly. They don't know your personality or aptitude, which are the qualifications you can utilize regardless of your level of experience. (On your resume, lead with your degree if it's relevant and the experience you have, including anything that could be related to your new field. It may not be your top priority in this situation, but neglecting it would also be a poor choice.) Leverage the relevant skills you have to meet people and tell a great story about your past. If you frame your experience in terms of what the employer wants, it will be much easier to prove you're a fit for the job (and the company in general). The example in the video above is a bartender trying to become a marketer. Customer service can be an important element of both of those roles, depending on the exact responsibilities. In terms of your starting position, you'll begin at least one step lower than where you would have been if you were working in the industry all along, but if the potential employer knows you're okay with that, it shouldn't be an issue. There are so many people that think certain jobs or tasks are beneath them, and that can quickly turn employers off. Stressing that you understand and are open to those possibilities will make it easier on the hiring manager to choose you. Showing your personality really can't happen in a resume or cover letter, which is why it's so important to find ways to meet people at the company. Lead with your story, not your resume. Meet people at the company at the level you're applying for and above too. If you can exhibit your personality and aptitude through those channels, you just may land the job.
How can you show your skills from previous jobs are relevant after a 10-year hiatus? There are a ton of mothers who have to reinvent themselves after having children. You're not alone! Don't let that be a road block. You've been working all along, even if it isn't for a paycheck. Now, you want to redirect your career. The strategy outlined below shows you how to go back to work after raising kids. As a general rule of thumb, each year you're out of the workforce leads to a 10% skills turnover. (Your abilities are 10% less valuable, because they're starting to get outdated.) For someone who's been out for 10 years, your skills are basically irrelevant. However, there is something you can do about it. If your approach is to send resumes out on job boards with those resumes signifying your 10-year absence from working, you're not going to get any interviews. Their first impression of you can't be that you've been out for ten years if they're going to hire you. Traditional job searching won't work for you, because it's too heavily focused on your resume. Today, people get hired for three things: personality first, aptitude second and experience third, in that order. That works in your favor, because you can make a good impression. If they can see a person like you working there, they can see you working there. Some companies or roles require a very specific kind of person. If you fit that description and/or you're a hard working, willing-to-learn optimist, you can fit into almost any work environment (especially a good one, which this one hopefully is). If you can do the tasks they require and adapt when necessary, then you're going to be productive there. A simple test or a few questions they have during your interviews will give them the right idea about your abilities. If you have the experience, you can hit the ground running. It's very rare that one candidate has all three of those requirements at the level the company wants for the job. While experience is important, the wrong attitude or personality will prevent you from succeeding in a position. Networking is the easiest way for you to get a job. You can (and should) put together a resume that is updated and explains what you've done for the last decade, including any volunteer work you may have done. Don't let that be the meat of your efforts though. Instead, let a potential problem you'd like to solve be your main priority. What do you want to do and why? What skills do you want to leverage? Once you find the answers to these questions, start setting up informational interviews. Propose the problem you want to solve, and have them help you find the people that need it solved in your area. Try to find out what it would take for you to earn a job with their company or another given your circumstances. Don't set up discussions with the companies that are hiring. Set them up with the ones that have the problem you want to solve and discover how you could end up working with them in the future. That subtle change in wording will keep the conversation from feeling stuffy or inauthentic for both you and the interview subject. By showing your willingness to get back into the working world but learning new skills along the way, you display the right attitude to get hired. If you can adapt, and learn new things, it doesn't matter nearly as much that you don't have the necessary experience. Talk to five or 10 companies to find out the skills gap you need to close. In meeting with that many hiring managers, you'll refine your pitch and exhibit the right personality to get an offer without even applying for a job. Go around the process to find a job. If you can figure out what it takes to be keepable for an employer after they hire you based on your aptitude and personality, you'll have no need to worry about your new-found job security. The hiring managers will figure out for themselves that you're ready for the job right now.
- 5 Transferable Skills Job Seekers Need
- How Career Changers Can Identify Transferable Skills
- How to Assess Your Transferable Skills
Do you know the difference between a transferable skill and subjective bragging about yourself? The first is a quantifiable trait hiring managers and recruiters want in their candidates. The latter is what most job seekers put on their resumes that result in them being put in the "NO" pile. Watch this episode of Brand ME! to learn:
- What a transferable skill is.
- How to do a brain dump to identify all of your skills.
- How to narrow in on the 4-8 top transferable skills you should market.
- How to assess what hiring managers are looking for with respect to transferable skills.
- How to tweak your own skills to match what they want.