Re-frame “Transferable Skills” as a Strong Value Proposition

The concept of transferable skills is almost as old as the hills in the employment arena, but it can still give your job search and career success a hefty boost if you do it right. First of all, you need to keep two critical principles in mind:

  1. Avoid giving a “learning curve required” impression to prospective employers.
  2. Focus emphatically on the value you can bring to employers that your competitors either can’t or won’t.

Learning Curves Scare Employers

The company that’s considering hiring you doesn’t want to know that you’re a fast learner or can turn your transferable skills into gold somewhere down the road. It needs to know you can jump in and start running NOW. Your professionalism needs to be discernible and perceived as valuable without the employer having to train you.

In other words, you need a compelling value proposition to make the employer really want you and counteract your relative lack of experience in the precise situation the employer faces.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it? How are you going to learn the specifics of the new job if you’re supposed to already have them mastered?

If you’re up against competition that already has all the desired skills, you might be out of luck. However, in many cases it’s not quite that cut-and-dried. The question is, can you present yourself as a strong solution to the employer’s needs in a way that makes your transferable skills attractive? In other words, can your value be showcased so that it minimizes the impression of delayed value?

Your Competitive Value Proposition

The previous question leads to the second principle mentioned earlier. That is, your need to position yourself as having value that your competitors either don’t have or can’t provide as well as you can.

For example: Can you think of a situation in which you demonstrated the ability to quickly grasp the essential elements of a business problem in your tech company and come up with a workable solution? Then can you present that proven ability in a way that indicates its clear relevance to the consumer products company you’re applying to? If you have demonstrated value in the one environment that can clearly be seen as useful in the other and your competitors can’t do that, you’ve made it over the first hurdle.

To carry this a little further: If your experience in the tech company has parallels with situations the consumer products company might also have, that’s the first step in establishing a connection.

However, it’s at least as important to consider the challenges you might have been dealing with in the original situation. If you showed a keen ability to dig out the cause of complex problems and devised workarounds that weren’t standard procedure, it’s possible your competitors won’t be able to show that same capability for problem analysis and resolution in such complex circumstances.

Make that work for you!


[published in support of Job Action Day 2017]

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