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3 Questions to help find your new career skills

by Bethany

Switching career paths and not knowing how to leverage your skills is literally the worst. I was a teacher for five years. I had all the educational buzzwords down that could land me an interview. The only problem is that I wasn’t applying to anything even closely related to education. I needed to break from the job mold and identify my transferrable skills to land my next gig. 

If you’re thinking of changing career paths, below are three helpful questions you can ask yourself to identify your transferrable skills. 

It’s not a one-way street! Your career will move up and down and maybe even in a circle.

The daily grind breakdown

I decided to start with exactly what I had been doing for five years. I asked the question: 

What does my day to day look like? 

Examining what you do each and every day can be the foundation for identifying your first transferrable skills. How you handle your day to day work gives insight to your interpersonal skills, teamwork abilities, and thought processes. 

Time to make a list. Really break it down to everything you would do in a week or a month. Ask even more questions. Do you work on a team or manage people? Managing 150 students was a skill I had that could transfer to other work environments. 

Do you analyze any kind of data to inform your processes? Turns out all of my spreadsheets filled with student data was another transferrable skill. 

List even the most mundane tasks like scheduling conferences or daily communications in the office. Sipping your morning coffee might not count, but you get the idea. Doing this just might remind you of a skill that works across career paths. 

The resume audit 

Once you’ve identified your daily grind, you probably have a pretty good list. These are the skills you’ve really honed in the career you’re jumping out of. But what about the jobs you had before? You’ve got to build a resume and make sure your past jobs can link to your new career path. 

Instead of obsessing about how your two years as a retail associate can translate, ask yourself the question: 

How has this past position helped you in your current role? 

This shifts the focus from what the job is to what the job taught you. That way you’re looking at all your skills. 

You can delve even further and look at your volunteer work or internships. Anywhere that you went in and did something probably means you were also building skills. 

Retail may have taught you customer service, but a more transferrable skill was learning how to communicate with a wide variety of individuals. That sounds like the perfect thing to mention in an interview. 

By looking into your past positions you’re looking at industry experience and leadership skills. You’re looking at which jobs will make it onto your actual resume and LinkedIn profile for your career transition. 

The tech review 

Finally, we get to the 21st-century stuff. I can pretty safely say that you’ve got to have some kind of tech skills in any industry. If you’re making the career switch, some of these skills probably trickle over. 

For example, I had digital classrooms for all my students, so I knew how to organize and communicate across Learning Management Systems. These are surprisingly similar to content management systems and gave me a solid footing in using them. I also taught Graphic Design and Photography giving me proficiency in the Adobe Suite. 

Create another list of the career and job related technical skills or certificates you have. See how they could correlate to other fields. 

Your work in the technology proficiency review doesn’t end there. You should ask yourself the question: 

What tools and tech do you use outside of work? 

You probably built skills for technology that had nothing to do with the career you’ve had. Some of you might be rockstars at Instagram and built a massive following. Maybe you’re like me and run a blog and podcast. Perhaps you’re revered for your Yelp reviews.

Whatever it may be, look at your personal hobbies and life to see what skills with social media or otherwise you’ve developed. These can often be the basis for a whole new career. 

Your final question 

By now, you have three extensive lists of skills. Don’t worry if one is longer than the other. Right there in front of you are your transferrable skills you can use to break from your career and into a new one! You can change the wording or adjust as needed. 

You still have one final question to answer. It’s the most important question, so naturally, it’ll be hard for some to answer. 

What skill(s) do you actually want to use? What ones do you LOVE doing everyday? 

Finding those skills will help you hone in on specific roles within your new career path. 

I’m rooting for you!

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6 comments

Melody Johnson October 10, 2019 - 8:02 am

I love that you bring up thinking of ways to create transferrable skills. I always find many people feel stuck because they believe they don’t have any other options available to them. So many skills are transferrable! Customer Service especially. Thanks so much for sharing!

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Bethany October 11, 2019 - 7:08 am

Thank you! “You’re not stuck!” maybe that should have been the title.

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Melissa Blevins October 10, 2019 - 11:48 am

It took me forever to finally realize while I enjoyed helping people with their finances, I really did not enjoy banking. 15 years after I started a banking career, I’m finally helping women gain the courage to use their skills to create a blog, market products and services, and make smart money choices. It’s all tied together, but I remember getting fired from a banking job and thinking “well, this sucks but there’s gotta be a reason it happened”.

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Bethany October 11, 2019 - 7:08 am

Wow! Most people I know wouldn’t have that attitude. That is awesome and probably got you where you needed to be.

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Tom Schulte February 15, 2020 - 8:50 am

I’m really impressed with your story and talent. I’m on a medical leave after 30 years of teaching and having multiple part time jobs to supplement. I may just retire when my disability ends or transitions to SSDI. This will leave me with a pension and time to pursue new work. Do you know of resources that can assist that scenario?

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Bethany February 25, 2020 - 9:41 am

Thank you Tom! I really wish I did know of someplace to point you too. Although your district should have a retirement coordinator who will meet with you prior to taking out your pension. They should be able to go over all this.

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