10 Ways to Develop Transferable Skills

One of the most often stated intentions for people making a career change is the desire to transfer their skills to another place. That place could be a new firm, a new segment of a sector or a new sector altogether. People wanting to go from the private sector to the not-for-profit sector, for example, may be wondering how they can develop skills that they can transfer from one to another. Here are some tips for doing so.

1.       Think About What You’re Trying to Do

Quite often the level of thinking that we apply to this task is not good enough. We really want to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing, what it is that’s required to be done and how we’re going to go about it.

2.       Focus

We need to lock on to our target area so we understand better the transferable skills that we’ve got and those we need to develop further.

3.       Identify Skills to Develop

We need a thorough understanding of what kind of transferable skills we want. If you like, you can think of it as a gap analysis. We will need to research what we want to do next thoroughly to understand just what gaps exist in our skill set.

4.       Be Clever About Showcasing Transferable Skills

We need to show key people the transferable skills we’ve developed. Those people may be recruiters, job interviewers or the HR director at our organisation responsible for deciding who gets the promotion.

5.       Trawl Back Through Your Experience

When was the last time we used a particular skill we’re trying to develop? We know that we can use it and we know we can do so again but we may well need evidence that we know what we’re talking about.

6.       Recognise the Uniqueness of Each Environment

Environments play such an important hand in us being able to transfer our skills. What you did in one environment, in terms of process , behaviours, project management, performance measurement and stakeholder relations, may well be similar to what you’re going to be doing in your new environment but it’s not the same.  Sensitising yourself to that is critical.

7.       Adapt Your Language

The words, acronyms and terminology used will be different in different environments. You may need to develop different ways of talking about the same thing in different places.

8.       Respect Different Social Contexts

Every social context is unique because the people you’re working for and with are going to be different in each context. They are going to value you differently too. So again sensitivity to the different social contexts is crucial.

9.       Plan for Shifting  Between Cultures

“Culture” is an oft spoken or written word that relates to something deep, meaningful sophisticated and complex. We need to understand what transferable skills need developing to make the cultural shift from one organisation to another, one country to another or one sector to another.

10.   Sharpen Your Saw

What Stephen Covey means by the term “sharpen your saw” is that the skills to be worked on need to be sharp enough so we can do the type of work that needs doing. If we don’t work at being better tomorrow than we were yesterday we don’t deserve to transfer anyway.

For more expert advice and practical resources to boost your career, take a look at our Career Ignition Club.