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Translating your skills into a new industry
If you’re thinking about changing industries, you’re not alone: the average Australian will have 17 jobs across 5 careers in their lifetime. When you switch industries or careers, it can be challenging to balance your previous experience with your future ambitions, and you’ll have to be able to transfer your skills if you want to land yourself that new role and succeed in your new industry.
While some of your technical skills might be industry-specific, there are plenty of skills that you’ve racked up under your belt that can be translated into a new industry – especially those that are industry-agnostic, like communication, time management or creative thinking.
Your transferable skills will be your biggest selling point when you’re switching industries, so it’s essential to be clear and confident on what you bring to the table. If you’re looking to make the leap, here’s how to identify your transferable skills and use these to secure your next role.
Start by listing your skills
Whether it’s writing your resume or in an interview, your skills help sell you as a candidate to a prospective employer. Traditionally, many candidates like to focus on technical skills, like proficiency in a certain software, or industry expertise, however these won’t be as helpful if you’re moving professions.
Start by brainstorming all the skills you use in your day-to-day role, and highlight the ones that you think are your strongest assets. If you’re not sure where to start, you can categorise your skills across a few main pillars:
- Communication skills including written communication, verbal communication with colleagues and partners, public speaking, negotiation, or information dissemination using tools like PowerPoint or email
- Organisation skills such as time management, an ability to meet deadlines, and campaign management
- Critical thinking skills like data analysis, problem solving, creativity, and strategic decision making
- Teamwork skills such as conflict resolution, listening, and coordination
- Leadership skills such as coaching, delegation, team recruitment and management, and agency management
Focus on how, not what
If you’re switching industries, it can feel like you need to discard key achievements from your previous roles. However, these can still be used in the recruitment process – it’s all about how you repackage them for your future employer.
When you look at the major highlights of your career, think beyond the ‘what’ of your success and analyse how you got there:
- What steps did you take to ensure success?
- How did you solve problems that arose along the way?
- How did you support and motivate your team or external stakeholders?
- How did you define your strategy and your KPIs?
Going into your interview, focus more on the skills that got you to your achievement rather than the achievement itself – this will show your future employer that you have the right tools in your arsenal to succeed in your new position.
Look at job descriptions for your future industry
One of the best ways to prepare for an industry career switch is to look at what your future job description could look like, and see how your skillset stacks up. Look on websites like Indeed and Seek for the types of positions you’re looking for, then take a look at the types of profiles these roles are recruiting for in terms of competencies and skills.
After this, you’ll have a clear idea of what employers are looking for in their ideal employee, and you can use this to do an analysis of how your skills can translate – and which areas you might need to upskill on.
Reports like the 2019 Salary Benchmark Guide can also give an insight into what roles and skills are growing in demand across various industries, which is handy if you want to figure out how you can remain competitive in your future job market.
It’s about attitude and mindset
Above all, employers want to see your passion and enthusiasm for the role, as well as your potential. Skills can be taught, after all, but a candidate that has the right mindset and is a good cultural fit is more challenging to find.
Although you might be lacking in hands-on experience, it’s important to show an employer that you understand the industry you’re getting into, and that you’re willing to learn and adapt. Look into market trends and insights, and do your research into an employer’s mission statement and brand values before an interview. Use your cover letter, resume, and interview all as opportunities to demonstrate why your skills set you apart from the competition - the more confident you are in your own skills and what you bring to the table, the more confident an employer will be in your potential to make the switch into a new industry.
Talk to your recruiter
If you’re switching industries, career advice is essential – and one of the best resources at your disposal is a recruiter. Recruiters can help you to identify opportunities that align with your career goals, and can give you tips on how to prepare yourself for interviews to have the best shot at success. Your recruiter can also provide you with industry insights to help you better understand employee expectations, and if you build a strong relationship with your recruiter, they could put you forward for roles that are yet to be listed.