Talent shortages in industries undergoing digital transformation have prompted employers to hire candidates from other industries. However, they do so with one caveat: these candidates must be armed with relevant transferable skills.
Companies have also become more cautious about hiring strictly specialist candidates because of the uncertain business landscape as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Specialists without transferable skills may have a harder time adapting to ubiquitous change.
In light of this, how can candidates go about incisively identifying and showcasing their transferable skills?
In a nutshell, transferable skills are skills that can be applied to various roles in various industries. Among the many skills that fall into this category are problem-solving, writing and time management.
In order to showcase your transferable skills to maximum effect, organise your skills list on your resume into three categories.
Expertise-oriented transferable skills
As the term implies, these are centred on your areas of expertise.
Under each job role, list these skills to show how they apply to other positions and industries, not just your field. For instance, if you are a journalist you could list “content creation and writing” and specify how this allows you to write compelling marketing material, aside from news articles and features.
As more people continue working remotely, companies are realising the value of individuals who can lead virtual teams and collaborate effectively in spite of distance.
If you possess such skills, use phrases such as “performance management of remote teams” or “virtual collaboration” or even “virtual training” to show that you are comfortable in such an environment and can add value to your team in this new normal.
Employers are looking for people with discipline who can learn quickly.
In an era of decentralised workforces, phrases such as “effective time management” and “autonomous worker” really resonate. Employers need to be able to trust that you will meet your deadlines, remotely or otherwise.
To get the desired effect, you should also experiment with resume formats.
Most candidates use the reverse-chronological format. While this format is easy to navigate, consider a combination resume format which marries chronology with function.
A functional resume zeroes in on skills, while a chronological resume presents a candidate’s work experience over time. A combination format captures an employer’s attention with both skills and work history.
It constitutes a list of your skills and capabilities first. The subheadings would be your skills, rather than the job roles you’ve held over the years. Your employment history comes second.
Here are some examples of how you can cogently list and describe your transferable skills:
As the leader of a team of 10 sales representatives, I motivated them to double their productivity and increase total sales revenue by 50 per cent, outperforming all other teams.
Conducted webinars to train staff to improve their networking skills. 80 per cent of staff reported an increase in confidence and a 50 per cent increase in the size and strength of their client networks.
Describing how you picked up a certain technical skill can also be a reflection of your soft skills and abilities. For instance, if you recently picked up web development, you could describe how you taught yourself to code and how you built several websites for clients within a short period of time. This would show that you are a self-motivated learner who can deliver results swiftly.
This information can be expressed in cover letters too. As you look back on your previous jobs, think about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Perhaps you were able to rally your team to achieve results against all odds. Provide examples that truly illustrate your skills and capabilities.