A majority of job seekers can’t capture transferable skills on their resumes or identify how their skills apply to other industries, and they are not comfortable speaking with potential employers about those skill sets, a LiveCareer survey found. Job seekers lack the ability or the confidence to communicate this vital piece of information: how work in a previous career relates to the next one. With many industries in free fall due to the economic conditions, job seekers face an incredibly tight labor market – a market that, in some sectors, is virtually non-existent. Changing careers is on the minds of many. The life raft in times of transition? Transferable skills.
The national survey of displaced workers found:
- 57% (20.8 million) can’t identify their transferable skills with a high degree of confidence.
- 58% (21.1 million) aren’t sure how to include transferable skills on their resume.
- 53% (19.3 million) can’t identify the best resume format to use to get their next job.
- 34% (12.4 million) can’t provide good examples of how their skills would apply to another job.
- 58% (21.1 million) aren’t confident they can find new jobs where their skills would apply.
- 56% (20.4 million) are looking for a job in a similar industry even though that industry may be significantly cutting back employment.
There is a transferable skills knowledge and confidence gap, a lethal combination for job seekers, according to findings of the survey of 1,519 unemployed job seekers conducted from May 6 – May 11, 2020. Survey respondents had been displaced by COVID-19, part of over 36.4 million workers who had already filed for unemployment. When generalized to the population of COVID-displaced job seekers, the survey findings reveal the depth of the issues.
Top 3 Tips to Land Your Next Job Faster
Here’s what you can do to access and confidently share your transferable skills:
- Take Out the Titles. Remove the title from your last job. What was it that you really did, at a very high level? One client I worked with discovered that teaching school was a great background for planning and project management, for example. Even though those two roles are nothing alike, there are clearly transferable skills. When the title is removed, the skills show up.
- Let Go of Your Industry. A majority, 56%, of job seekers say they are looking for work in the same industries from which they were laid off — that’s more than 20.4 million people casting a net in the very industries that were hardest hit when the economy went into a freefall. If you were a restaurant worker, travel agent, or you used to work for a rental car company, the sooner you release that identity and that job label, the better off you’ll be. Today, considering a new career often means looking into a new industry. For guidance on what companies are hiring, check out this Forbes article and see what ideas come to mind.
- If You Double Down, The Payoff May Take a While. “I have invested a lot of time and money in becoming effective in my industry, and I feel that a change will set me back a few years and deplete my expert status,” Karina Soto says. She was an associate director of learning programs at a Florida-based university. “I would not know how to redo my resume for jobs outside my industry.” She’s lucky – there may be other opportunities for workers like Soto. However, how long do you want to wait for your next paycheck? What if you have transferable skills that could be valuable, right now? And if you’re stuck, like Karina, thinking you’re out of options and unable to rewrite your resume – think again. Remember the YAHOO strategy in your job search: you always have other options. If it looks like there’s only one way to win, even when the game has changed, look again. Are you still using yesterday’s rules to find tomorrow’s results?
- Reinvention Required. The word reinvention is just 11 letters, but putting the concept into action is much more than a spelling exercise. Believe me, I’ve been there. According to the LiveCareer survey, you’re not alone: only 43% of job seekers say they are at least very confident they can identify their transferable skills. There are even more people — 20.8 million — who are not so sure of themselves, LiveCareer says. While I don’t want to deny those feelings, the facts seem to contradict the emotional wave. Search your own experience: have you ever gone into a situation without any prior history and it turned out ok? I’m trying to choose an example from my life and I can’t, because I have nearly 4.2 million. How about meeting my wife, learning to drive, going to college, writing these words…my life is filled with experiences that I’ve never had before. And so is yours. Reinvention looks tough at first, until you realize: human beings are wired for it. That’s why you can try sushi for the first time and you don’t die and it is delicious and your life expands in a new way. Think that looking for a career is tougher than finding a good place for toro? What if it wasn’t – what if you have the ability, in spite of your feelings, to see and do new things – based on transferable skills you already possess?
- Soften Up Your Strategy. The LiveCareer survey found job seekers have a weaker grasp of soft skills than they do of hard skills. Only 40% believe they can capture soft skills on their resume (e.g., teamwork, communication, leadership), compared to 45% who say the same for hard skills (e.g., project management, software expertise, inventory management). Soft skills are typically the most transferable between jobs, and they will be massively important for workers in industries hit hardest by COVID. What are your top soft skills? Write them down. What are your top transferable skills? Write them down. What’s an industry that would make you say, “wow”? Don’t think you can make that leap? That idea might be holding you back more than what you’ve got on your resume. What would happen if it were easier than you realized to reinvent yourself – starting with understanding the new story around your soft skills? Because that approach is the one that leads to hard results.
By: Chris Westfall