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  1. Why you should take stock of your transferable skills

    October 18, 2016 by Alison Hill

    It was heartbreaking to read about the despair some workers felt when car makers closed down their factories earlier this month. Workers were on average 50 years old, had spent 20 years working for one company, and felt they did not have the skills to find work elsewhere.

    While it is true that manufacturing in Australia is in decline, everybody has transferable skills – those that are developed across the lifespan in both work and non-work settings. Being able to use those skills in a different setting can open up a host of job opportunities, but first you must identify them and value them as much as a prospective employer might.

    You definitely have transferable skills

    Doing any job involves many skills over and above those required to accomplish core tasks, and some skills are useful in almost every job.  Skills are different to attributes, and the good news is that you can learn and develop them. You may have acquired transferable skills by participating in the health and safety committee in your office, or by being a member of a social committee. Putting on a great Christmas party, for example, could help you into a career in events if you are able to connect the skills you learnt to an employer’s requirements.

    Outside of work, you may have played a sport, or belonged to a school or community organisation, or be involved in a hobby. These will have given you transferable skills that you can bring to the workplace in a new role. Anybody who has kids will know that being a parent teaches many skills, such as patience, perseverance, and negotiation, to name just three. A parent returning to the workforce can name these skills to increase their likelihood of success.

    Some things you might have learnt to do, such as fixing a computer or coding your own website, are technical skills, while others are ‘soft’ skills that will always be in demand, like the ability to communicate well, delegate tasks or resolve conflicts. Whether you have learnt these on the job in another workplace or in your non-working life, they are valuable skills that will give you the edge in any job application.

    Why transferable skills matter

    Your set of transferable skills will help you in different ways at different points in your career. When you are starting out, your time as netball captain or bass player in a band can show your prospective employer that you have good team skills and can co-operate with others. Your part-time job in a supermarket demonstrates that you know about customer service, and even the hours spent playing DOTA will have taught you about teamwork and cooperation.

    For those who are looking to change careers, transferable skills are crucial. Being able to research and analyse, for example, transfers well from an academic job to a range of roles in a commercial enterprise.

    Anybody re-entering the workforce after a break will need to call on their transferable skills as many occupation-based skills will have become obsolete. Even if all the organisation’s billing is now automated or outsourced, the ability to work magic with a spreadsheet still has a range of applications.

    What are your transferable skills?

    Take some time to make a list of your transferable skills and how they can be helpful to you in your future career. Do you know a second or a third language? That can be a huge advantage in today’s globalised workplace. Are you a writer in your spare time? Or are you really good at setting goals and motivating people in your running group?

    Once you have listed them, think about how you can use them. It may be to help you write a good resume, or to identify career opportunities you hadn’t considered. Your list might reveal gaps in your skills that you could address with a short course or on-the-job training.

    When you are applying for a job, the position description will contain a list of the skills the employer is looking for. Match your transferable skills to the requirements of the position, with a specific example. If, for instance, you co-ordinated the fete at your child’s school and you are applying for a role involving project management, link the skills you used to run the event with the requirements to be able to lead a team, communicate and manage risk. Use your cover letter to explain how your transferable skills match the requirements of the job description.

    Here are some of the most in-demand transferable skills. How many do you have?

    Interpersonal skills: relate well to others • motivates others • good at resolving conflict • team player

    Organisational skills: setting and meeting goals • time management • following up • meeting deadlines • planning

    Leadership skills: team building • delegating • innovative • motivating • decision-making • strategic thinking

    Communication skills: presentation • simplifying • writing and editing • persuading • teaching

    You can work at the skills you have and learn new ones, either by informal learning in your free time or with a mentor, or by enrolling in short courses, webinars and workplace learning programs.

    Managers can support their teams by encouraging and sponsoring members to take courses in areas that will both add to their transferable skills and make them more effective team members.

    Document what you learn and how it might transfer into a different role than the one you have now. And be ready to use your transferable skills in a new setting when the time is right.


  2. How to move from a dead-end job to a fulfilling career

    September 15, 2015 by Alison Hill

    Disengaged Employee

    By Alison Hill

    The weather is warming up and the days are lengthening. It’s easy to feel that life is passing you by while you are stuck behind a desk. But before you chuck it in and take up a job in the great outdoors, ask yourself, Is it really time to change careers? Do you need to do something quite different to your present job? Or would some adjustments make you more satisfied? How will you know? And what will you do next?

    There are three things to look at to help you decide if a career move is right for you right now.

    The organisation you are in now

    Perhaps you like the tasks you do, but feel that you don’t fit the organisation’s culture. Its values might clash with your own, or the people you work with are very different to you. You might feel that you are at a dead end and that your skills are undervalued. You may be involved in ongoing conflict with a manager.

    The job you are in now

    You might feel bored, that you have stopped learning, and that your tasks are routine and repetitive. Your prospects may be non-existent, and you may not be earning what you are worth. Perhaps you are concerned that your role will be outsourced in the near future.

    External factors

    Sometimes both the organisation and the job are just fine, but something happens in your life to make you consider a shift in career. It may be the birth of a child, relocation for a partner’s job, or the need to earn more.

    Any of these may make you feel it’s time for a complete change, and they might be a sign that a career change would be beneficial. But maybe a smaller change would do the trick. Being dissatisfied in your current job is not the same as being unhappy with your entire career.

    A career change is a big decision, and may involve further study or taking a few steps down the career ladder. It helps to have a very clear idea of what you are looking for, and to spend some time getting ready for a change. Here are some steps to take to prepare yourself for a career change.

     

    1. Make a list of your transferable skills and note where you may need to upskill. Plan how and when you will learn new skills. You might enrol in an accredited course, take some short courses online, or find a mentor to teach you ‘soft’ skills.
    2. Build your professional network. Attend conferences and networking events, update your LinkedIn profile, join groups and follow up the contacts you make.
    3. Build your personal brand. Know your strengths and weaknesses and work hard at your professional reputation. Create a clear, consistent image of yourself, in person and online. Use social media to boost your profile.
    4. Set your goals and make a plan to reach them. Being clear about the career you want and how you will realistically get there is the difference between dreaming and reality.
    5. Take a career aptitude test and consult a career adviser. Particularly if you are unsure about whether to make a change, a test that reveals or confirms your strengths, skills and ideal career direction is hugely beneficial. You can find out about Challenge Consulting’s career guidance programs here.
    6. Keep your resume up to date. As well as recording your positions and achievements, emphasise your transferable skills (such as strong oral communication, negotiation, or problem-solving) and even your hobbies if they are relevant to the career you hope to have. You may need to use your resume sooner than you think.



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