November 7, 2023

4 Simple Steps To Translate Your Past Experience Into Transferable Skills

It’s natural to feel intimidated when you’re thinking about making a big career leap. After all, if you don’t have much experience in the industry you want to go into, how are you supposed to stand out among other applicants?

The secret lies in finding ways to demonstrate that you do have relevant experience, even if it’s not always a 1:1 match. We’re willing to bet that through your past educational, professional, and even personal experiences, you’ve gained some pretty impressive skills along the way—skills that are required in the roles you want to land in the future.

These are what we call “transferable skills” and, according to one marine biologist-turned-Salesforce-admin, they’re everywhere. You only need to know how to mine your experiences to come up with them. Here are four tips to help you get started!

1. Write down all of your experience

You can’t know which skills are transferable if you don’t know all of the skills you’re working with first! To start, jot down all of the experiences you’ve had to date. This could include jobs, internships, volunteer work, mentoring relationships, and anything else that stands out to you.

Once you’ve got the experiences and dates listed, dig a little deeper. Elaborate on the specific responsibilities and tasks you performed within each position. What was your role? Are there any quantifiable achievements you can list here? For example, if you worked as a part-time retail associate and had certain sales objectives, did you exceed them by 10% each quarter? That’s great info to catalog.

Next, divide your skills into “hard” and “soft” skills. Hard skills are the ones that are more tangible; for instance, being able to take an accurate inventory count in a grocery store. Soft skills, on the other hand, are harder to “see.” Think: communicating well with your coworkers, taking the lead on getting things done, etc.

Don’t worry about getting the formatting and wording of your resume just right. You’ll do that later! The objective here is to just get everything out on the page so you can take a closer look, once you know what skills matter the most.

2. Identify your “dream” roles and the skills you need to succeed

What kind of jobs are you interested in? What industries are calling your name? Knowing your target job can help you tease out the skills you’ll need for those roles.

And, if you don’t know those answers just yet, that’s okay too! Perhaps you’re more drawn to the idea of having a more flexible job than the one you have now, or maybe you just know that you want to make more money each year. You could also use those criteria to do a search and see what kind of roles offer those benefits.

Once you’ve got a couple of jobs in mind, it’s time to think critically. Review the job descriptions for those positions, and pay close attention to what companies are looking for. If possible, talk to people who have (or have had) those roles and find out which skills they think are most important.

Often, it’s pretty clearly spelled out within the job posting what the company is looking for. After all, it benefits the recruiting team to be as clear as possible. However, other times, it may take a little bit of analysis to figure it out.

For example, if a job posting is pretty bare bones but you can see that a technical role will be responsible for managing a team of contractors, you can deduce that you’ll probably need to have strong communication skills, as well as the ability to delegate and follow-up on assignments.

3. Analyze your past experience to see how it aligns

The next step is to compare the information you gathered in the first and second steps. How can you demonstrate that you have the skills that your target jobs require?

Let’s take our last example and imagine you’re interested in a technical role, and you know you’ll be in charge of a few contractors. We already identified that you’ll need communication skills. How do your prior jobs show that you have those? Well, if you were a barista, you probably had to communicate with lots of customers and coworkers simultaneously. So you’ll definitely want to bring that up during an interview!

Here’s another example. Say you’ve worked in retail, and you’re now interested in project management roles, which require you to be super organized. Throughout your time in retail, you were responsible for managing your daily workload, communicating with teammates, and multitasking so you could accomplish competing priorities. All transferable skills you can speak to!

4. Refine your resume and practice explaining your skills

Now that you’re feeling more confident about your transferable skills, you can finalize your resume. Be sure that it’s organized in a logical way and highlights your strongest skills and most relevant experience. You might even create a separate “Skills” section where you can list all of your skills in an easy-to-scan way.

The prep work doesn’t end when your resume is done! You should also spend time practicing how you’ll talk out loud about your skills and experience.

We recommend using the “STAR” method to walk through examples:

Situation: Provide context about the situation you were in.
Task: What was the task you were assigned to do?

Action: What action did you take?

Result: What was the positive result that came out of your actions?

That way, when it comes time to interview, you won’t have to fumble for words because you’ll know exactly what to say!

Climb Hire can help you identify transferable skills and start a new career

Climb Hire grads come from all types of backgrounds. We’ve helped cashiers, baristas, au pairs, and cooks transform their careers, increase their earning potential, and land jobs they’re excited about.

As a matter of fact, we think that transferable skills are so important that we’ve devoted half of our program to developing your soft skills and showing you how to transfer your current skill set to your new career.

Want to join our next cohort and see for yourself? Learn more and apply below for the Salesforce Administrator track!

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