What Are Transferable Skills and Why Do You Need Them?

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The phrase “transferable skills” is commonly used on resumes and job descriptions, and recruiters are on the lookout for these skills when reviewing potential candidates. But what are “transferable skills,” and why are they valuable?

Transferable skills are personal traits or general know-how that can transfer well from one job to the next without the jobs being similar in responsibilities or even in the same industry.

Organization, for example, is a common transferable skill. If you’re applying for a position as an administrative office assistant, obviously being able to stay organized (and helping to keep your co-workers organized, too) will be an asset, and likely even a requirement of the job.

But the beauty of transferable skills, like organization, is that they can transfer to nearly any job. It’s all about how you view the role you’re applying for and positioning the transferable skills you already have to make your interviewer realize that you have enough life experience and general knowledge to do well with whatever new responsibilities may be asked of you.

If you’re applying for a position as an auto body repair mechanic, you might not think that saying you’re an organized person would be very relevant to the job, compared to if you were interviewing for an office admin job. But auto body repair mechanics require plenty of tools and sharing a workspace with others. Keeping shared resources in order and shared workspaces organized is important for good teamwork and co-worker relationships. Maybe the person you’re replacing was fired because that individual never picked up after himself and left shared toolboxes so messy that the other mechanics struggled to find what they needed. No matter what role or industry you’re in, being an organized person is a helpful trait to have.

Here’s a list of some common transferrable skills you might consider including in your resume:

  • Communications skills you have - speaking, listening, email, phone, etc.
  • Creative problem solving skills
  • Ordering/tracking goods and supplies
  • Decision-making abilities
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Equipment operation - list specific equipment
  • Goal setting
  • Ability to learn quickly
  • Character traits - energetic, pleasant, helpful, trustworthy, efficient, organized, dependable, flexible, self-assured, considerate, punctual, loyal, precise, resourceful
  • Ability to delegate
  • Takes instructions
  • Motivates others
  • Customer service
  • Supervisory experience
  • Time management

Is Your Email Address Holding You Back?

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Imagine this scenario: A candidate is the perfect fit for a job. She’s polished her resume. She sends it off to the recruiter via email. In a fraction of a second, her email appears in the recruiter’s inbox.

To: Hiring Recruiter

From: crazycatlady75@gmail.com

No matter how good the resume attached to this email is, this candidate has lost serious professionalism points just based on that email address.

Now, even if your email address isn’t that questionable, if it’s anything but some variation of your actual name, it’s probably not doing you any favors if you’re out looking for a job.

That does not mean that you need to go through the extremely painful process of killing your old email address and transferring all of your correspondence to a new one. Just set up a new email address and start using this address for professional correspondence. You can even set up your new professional email address to forward to you current email address, so you only ever have to check your personal email to catch any replies to your resume.

And here are just a few more tips:

  • Don’t include the year of your birthdate in the address.
  • Do not try to be witty or cute.
  • Use a common email provider like Gmail. Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail usually indicate a lack of experience with technology. If you want to go a step further, you can even pay to set up your own domain and email address. Of course, the domain will need to be available, and you’ll still have to follow these same tips.
  • Set up a signature line in your email with just your name, address and phone number in plain text (no flashing or colored text, pictures, or witty quotes).

The personal email you use to communicate with professionals should be as close as you can get to Firstname.Lastname@(whatever email service you use).com.

Making New Year’s Career Resolutions You Can Keep

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New Year’s resolutions, a tradition that dates back to the time of the Babylonians, have developed a reputation for being empty promises we make to ourselves and break a few months if not weeks later. When it comes to our careers, we can’t afford to take such a lackadaisical approach to our goals. So here are some tips to make some New Year’s career resolutions that will stick.

1. First you need to sit down and think. What are your career goals? And these shouldn’t just be canned responses of goals you think you should have for yourself. Imagine yourself one year from now, and where you want to be in your career and why it’s important to you to be there.

2. Now write down a few specific goals. They can’t be things that are vague like: “I will make more money” or “I will love my job.” They need to be specific goals like: “I will increase my salary by x%” and “I will move into a manager level position.” Vague goals aren’t actionable. What does “I will love my job” mean?

3. Next map out what you need to do to reach these goals. If, for example, you want to move from a customer service to a marketing field, what steps do you need to take to do that? If you’re not sure, now’s a good time to find someone in that field and talk to them. Ask them what recruiters look for and what will make you stand out in a sea of applications. Or if you want to increase your salary in your current position, sit down and talk to your manager. Explain your goal and ask them what you would need to do to get there. Write these steps down and put deadlines around them.

4. Once you’ve figured out what it would take to reach that goal, reassess. Is the goal you set for yourself attainable within your timeframe? It’s good to push yourself, but it’s not good to set a goal that’s impossible to reach, because unattainable goals can be more demotivating than having no goals at all. You wouldn’t do this to an employee, so don’t do it to yourself.

5. If you’ve figured out a goal you feel really good about, write the steps you’ve determined you need to take to reach it on a calendar. You need to track yourself against your goal throughout the year. Are you moving toward that goal? Do deadlines need to be adjusted? Do steps need to be changed or added? Your journey toward your goal will evolve throughout the year, so keep moving toward it, and keep assessing the path and your progress.

6. Share your goals with people who are close to you. Sharing your goals is a powerful motivator. Your friends and family will encourage you, support you, and help keep you on task.

7. At the end of the deadline, assess where you are. This is why it’s so important for your goal to be specific. If your goal is something like: “I want to be happier in my job,” how do you assess that overall? What’s the measurement? We all have good days and bad days. But if you have a specific goal written down along with the deadline you’ve set for meeting that goal, you can say to yourself: “Okay, how did I do? Did I hit the goal? Am I close? And if I didn’t hit it, what are the next steps on the journey to get there?”