The Importance of Finding Your Transferable Skills in a Job Description

Can we talk about how overwhelming it is to make a career pivot for a moment? Once you do the work (hard work) and finally discover a new career path you hope to pursue, you then have to sit down and see how you can position yourself as the right candidate for the job of your choice—even if you haven’t held that exact role or worked in that specific industry before. Scary right?

It’s time to put those fears to the side. In the past three months there’s been an average of 561,000 new jobs opened per month, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a whole lot of hiring opportunities. Wait—it gets better. In October, only 104,000 people joined the labor force, leading to a labor participation rate of just 61.6%. What does this mean for job searchers? There are a whole lot of open jobs with employers struggling to fill them (yes, this is a good time to negotiate). 

So how can you prove that you’re capable of making a switch? And more importantly, how can you tell a job is the right fit for you? By leveraging your transferable skills. AKA—the skills you gained from one role that are not only directly applicable to another role, but that supercharge your value because you bring a unique lens to solving the problem.

What do we mean by supercharge? Companies are looking to increase their productivity and when someone has a linear career path, their skillset looks a whole lot like “2+2=4” (solid). When you take a career transitioner path, your diverse skills make you exponentially valuable to an organization and your skillset is looking more like “2+2=5” (supercharged). 

Get ready to do some detective work. All job descriptions share the skills the hiring manager is hoping to find in a candidate. Here’s why it’s so important that you identify which of those skills are transferable skills that you already have.

Gain More Insight Into the Role

Applying for and interviewing for a job is a two-way street. It’s a natural feeling to want to impress the hiring manager at every step of the application process and that feeling can suck up a lot of your focus. It’s important to pause and remember that the hiring manager and company needs to impress you too. 

Before you even apply for a job, identifying what your transferable skills are and how they relate to a role you’re applying for is a key step to finding a job that you’ll be happy with, not just one that is willing to hire you. 

It’s impossible to truly understand what a specific role will look like until you go through the interview process, but before you commit time to doing that, you want to get a clearer picture of what the role will entail. Closely consider what skills the job requires and which of them you already have. You should also think about the missing skills you would need to learn once you’re on the job.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What transferable skills do I have that are included in the job description?
  • What skills am I lacking and do I want to learn them?
  • Based on what I know about the skills required for this role, does the job still interest me?

Craft a Better Resume and Cover Letter

Once you identify which of your transferable skills are required to do the job, you’ll be able to craft a really strong cover letter and resume to use in your application. You should always have a basic version of your resume and cover letter ready to go, but when it comes time to apply for a specific role, you need to customize those materials to really suit the unique needs of that job.

For example, let’s say that you’re looking at a job posting for an account manager role. The role requires strong communication skills and an ability to juggle multiple important accounts at once. If you’re coming from a project manager background, it may seem like the two roles are worlds apart. Spoiler alert—they’re not. As a project manager you have experience keeping communication flowing, setting deadlines, and staying on top of multiple projects at once. If you customize your cover letter and resume to highlight those transferable skills, hiring managers will take notice.

Questions to ask yourself

  • What skills does my resume and cover letter currently highlight?
  • Which skills should I replace with more relevant ones based on the job description?
  • Do I have any data that backs up my transferable skills?

Give Hiring Managers More Confidence

Recruiters and hiring managers typically have a lot of applications come across their desk. It’s understandable that at a certain point most of those applications begin to blend together. Of course, after all your hard work, the last thing you want is to get lost in the shuffle. 

Customizing your cover letter and resume to include your transferable skills will make your application stand out, but also serves a second purpose. When a hiring manager sees an application that jumps right in and shows them what they’re looking for, they can feel more confident about moving you to the next stage of the application process. You also assure them that you pay attention to detail and have a strong understanding of what they’re looking for in a candidate. 

Questions to ask yourself

  • How can I demonstrate that I understand what will make someone successful in this role?
  • Which required skills seem to be the highest priority?

Ask the Right Questions

Let’s circle back to the fact that applying for jobs is a two way street. One of the best ways to learn as much as possible about a job during the application process is to ask the right questions during the interview stage. When you prepare for your interview, don’t just practice the questions you think they’ll ask you, practice the questions you want to ask them. 

Use the interview stage to learn more about what would make someone a “success” in that role. It’s important to understand how your transferable skills will contribute to that success and what skills you will need to build in order to thrive in the role. 

Think critically about what you want from this role and gauge how prepared you are for it based on your transferable skills so you can ask thoughtful questions during the interview process that will give you a clearer picture of what to expect from a job, manager, and company. 

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do I know what my day-to-day responsibilities are in this role?
  • Is it clear who I will report to?
  • Do I understand what their company values are?
  • What factors would make me reconsider this job?

How Zeit Can Help You Find Your Transferable Skills

It's becoming the norm to not stay in one role or industry for your entire career. While pivoting may feel hard, with the right support and structure, the process is easy. Now that you know why it’s so important to find your transferable skills in a job description, you’re probably pretty darn curious about the how. If you’re not sure how to tell what skills a job requires and how your skills transfer, download our FREE e-guide today!

Decoding the True Skill Requirements of a Job Posting

What You’ll Learn

  • How to properly read a job description
  • How to discover the true skills a hiring manager is looking for
  • How to decode the transferable skills you already have
  • How to get a feel for their company culture

On-Demand Pivot Pack and Positioning Program

For more personalized help making your career pivot, both our On-Demand Pivot Pack and Positioning Program provide a personalized transferable skills analysis that will help you identify and leverage your unique skill set. 

To help you get the most out of your transferable skills, we’ll take you step by step through the process of creating your Transferable Positioning Pitch. That way, you’ll know exactly how to sell your skills. 

We’ll help you identify three to four core skills from a desired role that you relate to and brainstorm your transferable experience. Then, we’ll walk you through how to bring all of that insight together so you can use this framework on your resumes, cover letter, email intros, and conversations to instantly position your experience for your pivot.

Enroll in our next six week Positioning Program or sign up for the On-Demand Pivot Pack today!

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