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What Are You Good At?

Maybe it’s time to peel back the onion

When most people are asked about their professional lives, they typically answer in terms of their titles or functional areas. “I’m an accountant.” “I was in sales.” “I was in HR.” “I did marketing.”

Although literally and factually true, in today’s job seeking environment, that approach can be limiting, somewhat defeatist and may block you out of many potential jobs.

You may have heard people talk about “transferable skills.” Those are things that you can do regardless of the company, organization or industry.

If you’re good at working with people, you’ll still be good at working with people whether you work in manufacturing or health care. If you’re good at sales and understand the sales process, you mostly likely can sell lingerie or nuclear power plants.

To put your best foot forward, when you get into a job interview, be prepared to discuss your experience and your value to the organization in terms of those broader skills. “Here’s what I’ve learned about sales that cuts across all industry lines…” “In my years of experience, I’ve recognized that people are people. And this applies whether you’re on the shop floor or the intensive care unit.”

Some recruiters and hiring managers purposely pursue these kinds of interviews – especially with older applicants – to determine what kinds of transferable skills they have. This technique has become known as “behavioral interviewing.” You had better practice it and be ready for it. You’re very likely to find yourself in that position before you’re done.

Those are your core professional values. They are some of the major things that you’re bringing to the table. And they are things that typically come with age.

To bolster your transferable skills, you may be able to utilize your time out of work to gain a certification. PMP – Project Management Professional – and credentials in BPI – business process engineering – are two very popular and useful certifications. They tend to be relatively industry agnostic making those skill sets eminently transferable.

Transferable skills are much sought after and becoming increasingly valued in today’s uncertain job market. Whether you’re looking to change industries or not, they are part of the reality that is the job seeker’s world.


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