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    How to Identify Transferable Skills for a Career Change

    You’ve decided you want to change careers and you’re wondering how you can sell yourself to potential employers. How can you convince them that you have the skills to succeed in a profession you have no experience in? Even if you don’t have direct experience of a certain career field, that doesn’t mean you don’t have skills pertinent to it. We all have transferable skills whether we know it or not. No matter how drastic the difference between our old career and new career, our previous experiences—both in and outside of work—will have led to us having transferable skills. And at least some of these transferable skills can be put to use in any profession—including your chosen new profession.

    We all have transferable skills, but how do you go about finding out which ones you have? Here, it’s important to take all of your life experiences into consideration—not only your current work role, but previous ones. The transferable skills you acquired at school, college or university are also relevant. If you’ve ever done any voluntary work, had any hobbies or interests, raised a child or cared for an elderly relative, you will have picked up transferable skills from these experiences too. All your life, you’ve been acquiring skills that can be transferred to your new career. Try identifying those skills by taking the following steps:

    1. Reflect on your experiences—the most direct way to discover how your experiences have benefitted your transferable skills set is to consciously take a few hours this weekend to reflect upon them. Go through your life, starting from childhood, and make a note of all the significant academic tasks, extracurricular activities, jobs and family responsibilities you’ve undertaken. Write down the skills you used in each of these accomplishments and look at how you could use these same skills in your new career.

    2. Look at the skills you’ve used this week—as well as reviewing your life as a whole, thinking about the most recent tasks you’ve completed can also be of value. Write down what you’ve done this week, both in and away from the workplace. What skills did you use? The fact that you’ve used these skills so recently is useful for your career change, as it shows potential employers what you’re capable of right now. Work through our Identifying Your Skills Workbook to get clearer about this.

    3. Evaluate your skills - When you’re actually doing something, think about the skills you’re using in order to get it done. How could these skills be used elsewhere?

    4. Get feedback - Thinking about our skills can be a challenge, so ask those who know you well for their feedback. The people who are closest to you know what you’re good at and can probably already imagine you using certain skills in a variety of contexts.

    5. Seek help - A good quality career professional can also give you valuable feedback. A career guide that’s really worth their salt will take the time to get to know you and once they do know you, they’ll give you an objective and informed viewpoint, allowing you to make decisions from a much stronger platform. Explore how working with a career coach can help you with your career change. 

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