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What Do I Do When I Don't Have Transferable Skills?

Dear J.T. & Dale: I've been in the nightclub industry for seven years, starting right out of college. I make a great living, but the hours and lifestyle are catching up with me. I want to make the transition to a day job, but I can't seem to get anyone to even consider me. Most people see my industry as "party city" and assume I don't have transferable skills. What can I do to prove to corporate America that I can handle it? - Jason J.T.: Overcoming the "party" stereotype is going to require a concerted effort. For starters, try to de-emphasize the nightclub aspect of your work and play up the transferable skills, such as sales, customer service, budgeting, operations, hiring and training. DALE: It isn't just a matter of those skills being transferable, but of being translatable. You need to spend time with people working in your target jobs to learn their workplace jargon. Further, it isn't just skills, but style - the look and dress, and etiquette and camaraderie. They all go into the answer to the inevitable question, "Will Jason fit in?" J.T.: You could benefit from a career coach or other professional help in getting your resume, LinkedIn profile, elevator pitch and other career tools to resonate with corporate America. Further, you might get help mapping out a networking strategy to develop new contacts who can open doors for you and get you the exposure that Dale is talking about. The most successful career changes happen when people leverage their relationships to get recommended for jobs, getting screened in rather than screened out. DALE: Said another way, it isn't just a matter of possessing transferable skills, but of you taking hold of those skills, along with your materials and relationships, and reinterpreting them. You can't expect prospective employers to figure out how they transfer; you have to make the transfer for them. © 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale at advice@jtanddale.com or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
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