Transferable Skills: How To Change Careers in 2023 Without Starting Over
Resolve to change your life.
New year, new you? We don’t think so.
Every year as the clock strikes midnight, Jan 1, millions of optimistic folks make resolutions to re-invent themselves, whether eating healthy, exercising, or changing careers, only to quietly abandon those hopeful plans by mid-March. Let’s stop the impending demoralizing moment in its tracks, NOW.
If you’re one of the millions planning a career change to tech (or any industry), we’d like to remind you that you have a wealth of work and life experience that many employers want. These desirable skills are known as transferable skills.
Resolution or not, you can change careers in 2023 (without reinventing yourself) with transferable skills.
Read our guide below to discover how to discover and articulate your best skills to change careers in 2023 without starting over.
Table of Contents
- Real Talk: Why Is Transitioning a Career So Hard?
- Transferable Skills: Your Secret Weapon to Changing Careers
- Your Turn — Land the Job With Your Transferable Skills
- Last Thoughts: You Can Change Careers in 2023
Real Talk: Why Is Transitioning a Career So Hard?
Resolutions can be positive and affirming, whether they are made on New Year’s Day, a random Monday, or the first of next month. However, resolutions often focus on correcting past misbehavior or perceived flaws — do better, eat better, be better, and so on.
And when considering a career change, you may be looking at all the hurdles you must overcome to be successful. This mentality suggests that there’s something wrong with you and degrades your current experience.
I don’t know XYZ. I must do/be ‘this’ before I can change careers. Sound familiar? You’re not the only one.
At Skillcrush, we wholly reject the idea that you must start from square one or “fix yourself.” We believe that people deserve dignified and well-paying work. We also believe that no matter who you are, YOU ARE ENOUGH, exactly as you are right now.
You’ve got this, and we’re going to show you how! Onward to transferable skills.
Transferable Skills: Your Secret Weapon to Changing Careers
What are Transferable Skills? A Quick Transferable Skills Definition
Hold the phone! 📞 What are transferable skills and why are they important? We’re glad you asked!
The widely-known transferable skills definition is skills that can be used in every job without regard to the industry or position.
Transferable skills are hard skills and soft skills, which you gain through on-the-job training and general work experience.
Believe it or not, you have skills that transfer to the tech industry. Yes, even if you’re in a non-tech role like an administrative assistant, bartender, freelance marketing specialist, teacher, or nurse – you name the role, you have skills that are in demand in the tech industry.
In-Demand Transferable Skills for Roles in Tech
A limiting thought that many would-be career changers hold is that they don’t have the industry-specific skills to work in tech.
It’s true that some roles (i.e. developer) require technical skills, also known as hard skills, to enter certain positions (and Skillcrush can support you in acquiring those skills 😉). However, PLENTY of tech jobs exist within the tech industry that do not require technical coding skills, including:
- Visual Designer
- Content Marketer
- QA Analyst
That said, ALL roles (including entry-level developers) require soft skills. For example, tech professionals often work on multiple projects in teams under time limitations reporting to one or more stakeholders. I don’t know about you, but I counted at least four soft skills that are transferable from any previous role. Don’t worry you don’t have to wonder — here are a few key skills, soft and hard, that you should consider before discounting the soft skills you’ve earned over time.
Soft Skills – Personal attributes and interpersonal skills
Hard Skills – “Learned” or technical skills
When reviewing your work experience, tell the story of the wealth of communication skills, leadership skills, soft skills, and hard skills throughout to affirm yourself on your new career adventure.
Your Turn — Land the Job With Your Transferable Skills
Identify Your Transferable Skills
We can list transferable skills until the cows come home, but that won’t do you any good. Here’s how to identify the transferable skills that make you unique.
First, review your current and past job descriptions. Yes, it is that easy.
Employers typically list desired qualifications and skills in job descriptions to target the appropriate audience. If you don’t have access to current or previous job descriptions, research similar titles on job search sites to see what other companies and professionals deem to be appropriate skills for the position.
Using the job description, assess how your practiced skills stack up against desired skills. Be honest and tell your story! Think through examples of moments in previous roles where your skills shined.
To further identify your transferable skills, take a long hard look at your past professional, volunteer, and extracurricular experiences and answer the following questions:
- What was your role?
- How did you contribute to the organization’s success?
- Who did you work with? How did you communicate with them?
- Did you manage anyone? How many people?
- What on-the-job training did you receive?
The previous questions are not an exhaustive list, however, they should get the wheels turning as you consider your impact and how it translates to different workplaces.
Leverage Your Transferable Skills on Your Cover Letter
But I don’t have hard skills! Reader, your transferable skills are your selling point in the job search. Soft skills are people skills or emotional intelligence earned over time and experience. So, this is your permission to flaunt your soft skills.
The best place to leverage your soft skills is on your cover letter. Yes, you should list your soft skills on your resume, but your cover letter is the perfect place to expand upon and illustrate your proficiency.
At my current company, I manage seven marketing professionals, conducting weekly one-on-one meetings, supervising workload, and maintaining the work culture to retain the current workforce and improve productivity.
Have some managerial experience? It turns out employee engagement, customer rating, profitability, productivity, and turnover are all impacted by business managers, according to Gallup. Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. Therefore, it’s in a hiring manager’s best interest to hire a professional with proficient management skills, leadership skills, and interpersonal skills (no matter their technical skills!), as it impacts the business’s employees and profitability.
I have experience conducting several projects simultaneously in my current role. In the first project, I analyzed a large dataset to deliver a year-over-year report to board members to create a five-year plan. In the second project, I developed and oversaw a product development team to meet a new company initiative.
The above-mentioned career story illustrates these transferable skills examples:
- Project-management skills
- Time management skills
- Analytical skills
- Problem-solving skills
A recruiter may also surmise that this person is self-motivated, detail-oriented, and results-oriented.
Your transferable skills are valuable and sought-after. It takes the right employer and the right opportunity to recognize your potential.
Last Thoughts: You Can Change Careers in 2023
It bears repeating: YOU are more than enough right now. And we’re here to provide the tools and content you need to support your confident transition to a new field.
Career change is difficult — let’s not discount that. As the adage goes, anything worth having takes hard work, but you can do it!
Here’s how you do it:
- Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on the wealth of skills you’ve acquired through your work experience, and remember that many job skill lists are a wishlist, not a requirement unless specified.
- Tailor your resume and cover letter to show off your best assets.
- Be confident in your current skills, but if you desire or your dream job requires, know that you can acquire new skills to land the opportunity.
BONUS: The number one piece of advice we have for career changers in 2023 is to surround yourself with the people who support your journey. A community, like our 10,000+ strong Slack group, can make all the difference when doing big things. From asking burning questions to receiving encouragement, make your career change with a community of peers to see you through the finish line.
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