Experience Needed: Identify Your Transferable Skills

You just graduated from one of the best technical training programs, or perhaps you are a hopeful new college grad looking to land your first job, or maybe you are a downsized job candidate exploring a new industry. Ultimately, you will be faced with the same nail-biting question – do you have experience???

Your mind immediately conjures up scenarios that float above your head as you think: “Hmmm, experience – well that depends – you mean like in life? Like in working with difficult people? Like in meeting deadlines? Juggling competing priorities? Balancing budgets? Navigating obstacles? Managing others’ expectations? Sure, I can do that!”.

“Well no – I never did THAT job before – but I can learn – are you willing to give me a chance?”

It’s true – there is no substitute for experience; it comes with time. Truthfully, with so many changes in the landscape today, employers are left with smaller workforces required to deliver a lot more work – so, more than ever, they need highly competent, flexible and self-motivated employees with short learning curves and high levels of productivity. All that translates to “we need strong performers with can-do attitudes”. Employers want to be sure they invest in a sure thing. Assumptions aside, you can’t beat experience. So, where does that leave YOU?

Try to think about what makes you unique; we all have something that stands out. Tap into it and use it as your lightning rod. If you have ever coached a team, coordinated an event, waited on tables, managed a business, cared for a sick relative, did someone’s taxes, trained for a marathon, or survived a layoff – chances are you demonstrated some of the very skills required for most jobs out there.

If you can’t say you are experienced in the actual job – make the case for what skills you can bring to the job – transferable skills – those compelling attributes, behaviors and tasks you have mastered in the other parts of your life. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have developed general knowledge, emotional intelligence and a core group of skills that make you a great candidate for a number of jobs.

So – before you throw in the towel, take another stab at it and try to get that job interview… What’s the worst that can happen? You can’t lose what you don’t have. Just do it and let me know how it goes.

Be well!

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