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What Are Your Transferrable Skills?

Terri Davis magazine

And how do you break from your resume history to persuade a recruiter to give you a shot at a new, golden opportunity?

Not unlike a Hollywood movie star, it’s easy to be typecast in your role and your career based on what you’ve done previously. Obviously to get a job, you need to show a track record and experience in your line of work. Yet this track record of narrow expertise in any field can work against you, especially if you are forced by circumstances or your own mid-life crisis to try something new.

You’ll likely have the HR department scratching their heads if you apply for a role for which you have little or no direct experience.

But it’s a bit like telling Jim Carrey that he can’t do a serious role because he was so well known for comedies. Yet he is versatile, with all the transferrable skills that made him at one time the highest paid actor in Hollywood. Yet he had to fight and plead for some of the serious roles he did eventually take on, but at a deep discount in salary when compared to his comedic work. Meanwhile, once given the shot, he proved himself in serious roles with several Oscar nominations.

The point being you also have transferrable skills. The trouble might be getting the casting agent (aka the human resource manager or recruiter) to see past your previous roles and see how what you did then has prepared you for something different now.

The added trouble here, with applying for jobs, is that if you apply for something outside of your experience, 99.9% of recruiters are going to toss you to the ‘no’ pile. Yet if you apply for something that fits your experience perfectly, you’ll continue to be typecast for certain roles in certain industries.

Is there any way around this? With some ingenuity and perseverance, there is a chance you can shift to compete for a different role.

First, write your resume in such a way that it shows off your transferable skills even before you list the places you’ve worked. Talk about transferrable skills as its own section, while also listing the positive impact your transferrable skills made in your previous work. This can be anything from improving processing speeds, to implementing a new technology that made the company more profitable, or ways your work or your department innovated in such a way that it became policy across departments to the benefit of your company.

Second, highlight your personality skills with testimonials from people who know you in work and life, from your superiors, to your co-workers, to someone who’s known you a very long time who works outside of your industry. The purpose is to show you are a flexible person who gets along with people from all walks of life and you can adjust and adapt your approach to every circumstance. This will show that your people skills and your ability to learn, to adjust, to compensate and be flexible, is very high. If you put this up front in your resume, it will be front and centre for the decision maker, which will put you in a whole new light in ways that the typical resume, listing job title, years of service, and job description, can never do.

If you need help getting your transferable skills across or writing a resume that compels recruiters to give you a second interview, contact us at

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