Switching Career Paths: Identifying Your Transferable Skills

May 08, 09 Switching Career Paths: Identifying Your Transferable Skills
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Unemployment, unemployment, unemployment…

The country’s poor economic state continues to negatively impact many industries, and for many recently laid-off Americans, this is the time when they may have to rethink their career paths.  This is especially true for those working in industries like construction, banking, or even entertainment.

Yes, you may love working in those industries, but in this economy, can you afford to wait it out until the economy supports your industry again?  For those with responsibilities other than feeding themselves, I don’t think so.

So how do you switch career paths? Identifying your transferable skills is vital to a drastic or minor career path change.  Ask yourself what skills do you possess that can be transferred to another industry.  The answers to this question really aren’t hard; it just takes a lot of thinking.

Marc Dorio’s “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting the Job You Want,” includes that “…transferable skills are always expressed in terms of function – doing something with people or data or things.”

We all fall into the trap of generalizing our skills, i.e. “An effective communicator,” “Proficient with computers,” or “A detail-oriented individual.”  For “an effective communicator,” what kind of communicator are you?  Communicators are visual, written, and even nonverbal.  When hiring managers see your transferable skill narrowed down from a general description like “effective communicator” to a highly complex description like “helping others retrieve information” or “guiding group discussions,” they will be able to see your previous experience as a valuable asset to your next career path.

Even a 15-year bank supervisor can switch career paths easily, as long as s/he clearly identifies his/her transferable skills.  How do you think many college graduates go from a purely academic environment to well-paid Wall Street positions?  Of course, many graduates complete internships, but most of what they learn comes directly from the classroom books; the practical is put to the test in their first job.

So, for the 15-year veteran, the practical experience is a huge advantage.  Simply by identifying your transferable skills, you should be able to jump into a different industry – who knows, you may just enjoy the new career path!

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1 Comment

  1. Excellent advice. The key to making oneself viable in the future is having a skill set that can transferred across a variety of careers. Thanks for a great article.

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