The value of transferable skills
Posted on 21st February 2022 at 15:47
By Matt Pickin, Head of Operations at Iridium
From teaching to operations
“Eight years ago I was Head of an IT and Business Studies Faculty at a secondary school. If you’d have told me then that I would be Head of Operations at a successful consultancy in the private sector, I would never have thought in a million years that I had the right attributes for the job.
Turns out that the hours of data analysis as a faculty leader, along with presenting content, communicating with a diverse range of ‘stakeholders’ and curriculum planning was perfect practice for the financial analysis, modelling and everything else that comes with my role.”
Skills or characteristics?
“I believe that a person’s transferable skills are everything about them. The whole package. What they’ve done, what they’ve learnt, what they know, and the experience they’ve built over time can all be wrapped up into skills.
There are always going to be specific skills needed in some jobs, like programming (which can be learned). But there are a tonne of other jobs that cover a broad skill set that simply require great communication or analysing skills, or the ability to present, act on feedback and solve problems.”
A leap into the unknown
“Of course, it’s easy to talk about the ease of recognising transferable skills when you’re not the person questioning whether or not you have what it takes to apply for a job in a completely different industry.
The trick is to understand the value your skills can have to a business by understanding a little more about that sector.
For anyone looking to take a leap into a different industry, I would always suggest talking with a person who already works in that world. By chatting through your background, that person can help you to draw out the value of your skills, highlight the parallels and redefine them with the right terminology. Basically, every industry has its own lingo for pretty much the same stuff, which I discovered pretty quickly when I transitioned from education to IT.
It’s also important to remember that everybody is always learning on the job, no matter how long they have worked within a profession or a business, so you’ll be in good company.”
How businesses could adapt
“It’s common for job advertisements to focus heavily on skills requirements rather than the people themselves, which, in some cases, can result in many fantastic potential candidates ruling themselves out before they’ve even filled out the application.
Every piece of work a person has done in their lifetime has value - skills like resilience, tolerance, empathy, intuitivity, problem solving and communication are common to many jobs, but may be missing in an organisation.
If companies prioritised transferable skills for certain roles, knowing that the right people could adapt and learn how to perform specific tasks, they may well discover a much bigger, more dynamic talent pool.”
Have a question or feedback for Matt on transferable skills? Drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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