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Re-careering: What Are My Transferable Skills?

Real Estate Sales – Fewer homes being built and sold means fewer jobs in real estate sales. The transferable skills that employers in other fields value include lead generation for sales; interpersonal and communication skills; telemarketing; customer service; big-ticket sales of consumer goods (anything from furs to jewelry to boats and luxury watches); client relations; and marketing communications.

Banking and Finance – Transferable skills include mathematical and analytical, computer applications, financial analysis, and general accounting and bookkeeping skills. Knowledge of personal financial counseling and planning, credit and collections, and processing electronic transactions also make you an attractive candidate for careers outside finance. Finally, customer relations and communication skills prepare you for work in many fields.

Human Services and Not-for-Profit – The recession has also caused many nonprofits to cut jobs in human services and advocacy. Still, the skills gained in these areas can be transferred to other industries and occupations. Interpersonal and communication skills are fundamental to many caregiving occupations, including personal home care. Knowledge of public and private benefit programs can help you perform “individual service” occupations in government and education. The Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration, for example, offer many jobs suited to the skills you may have acquired in human service and not-for-profit organizations and occupations. You may also bring more general skills to the table, including finance and budgeting, accounting, project management, and general administrative supervision.

General Administrative – The combination of the recession, outsourcing of administration and support jobs, and increasing computer automation has produced significant job loss in administration. Nonetheless, many occupations demand organization and planning, customer relations, communication, budgeting and finance, computer, and project management skills.

What Gets You Hired: Experience or Skill Set?
A big part of getting the greatest value from your transferable or marketable skills and capabilities is to stop viewing yourself as “being” a specific job or occupation.

“I’m a school principal. What else can I do if there are no schools in need of a principal?” Don’t get caught in this rut. School principals have to be good administrators, educators, communicators and negotiators, finance managers, facility managers, and supervisors. Why not consider a training-level management job in a commercial setting? It may not be an elementary school, but managing a workplace often requires the same skills.

Get a pad and pencil and start listing your transferable capabilities and knowledge (some features of your skill set may come from family life or volunteering). Then ask yourself what other industries and occupations could use those competencies. Emphasize your marketable skills in job applications and résumés. Sell what you can do, not what you’ve been.

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