Today, many job seekers define themselves by their job title and may not take into account their specific transferable skills. This could limit their range at the time of job transition due to a lay-off, career change, or disability. How do you know which skills can transfer to another job? How do you identify them and sell them to employers?
First, let’s define “transferable skills,” as skills and abilities you have gained during any activity in your life – this can be work, school, volunteering, or even parenting and are applicable to what you want to do in your next job. These are learned skills you developed throughout your life and can apply to a variety of situations. An example would be the ability to coordinate multiple tasks.
John was a truck driver for over fifteen years and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and back problems. When John had to make the decision to change careers, he struggled because his focus was on his title, “truck driver.” John had to slow down, identify his daily job duties, and identify things he had done throughout the years. A few skills he identified were logistics, communicating with dispatch, knowledge of transportation guidelines, and excellent time management. He made his list of skills and took a serious look at how much he could work; John decided he could work part-time. He had to learn light computer skills. Since he had skills as a dispatcher in transportation, he updated his resume highlighting skills that would be of interest in the dispatching industry. He was able to get a part-time job as a dispatcher for a local delivery company!
John took a good first step by identifying the skills that he had gained to find his next job. A couple of other things John took into consideration were the environment and the time he could work due to his disability.
It is not just about disabilities
Sometimes a person can no longer do their job due to a disability, and other times individuals need to take all the skills they gained to advance to their next job. For example, I learned about the importance of customer service after working as a server and relying on my tips for most of my income. I realized I had to provide the best service in order to make good tips. I also worked at a call center for a large cable company and took calls for billing issues and other complaints. In that role, I learned how to work in a fast pace, stressful environment and not to take things personally. My first job in Houston was with Keep Houston Beautiful where I learned the different communities, and about services available in the Houston area. I also learned about networking. All those skills in addition to my writing skills, have allowed me to do what I do today.
Let’s get started
If you are one of those many job seekers who are going through a transition, don’t under estimate your skills. Write them down! Yes, all of them! When you get finished with the list you can think of do a “Google Search” for a list of transferable skills and add these. Then prioritize the skills, by which ones you like to do the most and which ones will be the most valuable for a new job. You are going to find that you are even more skilled than you thought.
As long as you keep defining yourself by job title you could be limiting yourself, so examine those transferable skills and let them transport you to a new possibility.
Claudia Magallan is the Disability Navigator for Workforce Solutions Workforce Solutions- Gulf Coast ensuring that customers with disabilities utilize all the services offered by Workforce Solutions. She has over six years of experience building relationships in the Houston Community and working with job seekers with barriers to employment.