At Cancer and Careers we often hear from survivors whose cancer experience inspired them to finally change careers and/or begin looking for work that they feel will be more meaningful; and a frequently asked question is “Where do I start?” For many, their initial impulse is to engage in some type of professional development course or start actively networking. While these are both appropriate and worthwhile activities, according to a recent article by Après Group, an important and often overlooked first step in this process is to focus on transferable skills — i.e., the professional abilities you already possess that can be applied across a variety of fields and settings. Here are Après Group’s suggestions for how to make transferable skills work for you:
- Take inventory of the areas in which you have excelled in past or current positions that are likely to serve you well in the role you aspire to. For example, a high school English teacher doing this exercise might identify public speaking, analytical abilities and “people skills” among those that are desired by a variety of industries.
- Once you feel good about your list, identify those skills that are considered desirable in the field you are targeting. Pro tip: Check out postings on job boards to see how employers have described the roles they’re hiring for, and compare against your list.
- The next step is to update your resume so the transferable skills you’ve identified are front and center. Two great approaches to doing this are to either create a “Professional Summary” section on your resume or emphasize these skills in the bulleted lists under your various job descriptions.
- You’ll also want to take the time to talk about transferable skills during an interview, to help hiring managers gauge how well you understand the contributions you can make to a potential employer. The best way to do this? Prepare at least three stories that demonstrate how you’ve applied transferable skills in past jobs.
If you are in the midst of a career change or thinking about how to get started, be sure to register for our upcoming Career Change webinar, and check out these other CAC resources: