Thursday, April 9, 2009

Think Transferable Skills

When you are preparing for an interview, and when you are actually in the interview, think transferable skills, not job duties.

It's easy to say, but if it's a new concept for you, it's not always easy to do - to begin with. Once you make the shift, you'll find you start thinking that way and it become much easier.

I had a client recently who was making the transition from a manufacturing job to health care, specifically care of seniors.

In answer to almost every question we practiced, she got into long stories about mechanical equipment, production lines and product.

Even after we'd discussed it, she was still having no end of trouble identifying the skills she used in her manufacturing job that would be relevant to her new job in health care.

Her "hard skills" included being able lift, bend and do physical work with regard to her safety and the safety of others.

Her "soft skills" included her organization, attention to detail, ability to stick to a schedule, enjoyment of routine work ... to mention just a few.

If you are having difficulty seeing how your previous job gives you relevant skills for the work you would like to find, write down the job duties of your old job.

Then for each job duty, write down what skills it took to perform them. Think of someone doing a really bad job, in your old posiiton. What would that person be doing or not doing, that made them bad at the job?

The opposite of that is what you must have been doing to do a good job!

For example, if someone doing the manufacturing job was allowing product to be damaged because of careless packaging, the opposite to that is, obvious, taking great care to wrap product well.

What skills are there in this? Attention to detail, pride in job well done, manual dexterity.

Now, how can you apply these to your new job? Continuing with the health care new job theme:

"In my last job, to make sure the end product went out undamaged, I had to pay great attention to detail, be on the look out for anything that was different than usual and check it out. I took pride in making sure all my work was of the highest quality and my supervisors not only satisfied, but very pleased with my work. And also, because I worked with my hands, I demonstrated good manual dexterity. All of these skills are directly transferable to working with seniors."

That could be a possible interview answer to "what did you do in your last job that prepares or qualifies you for this one."

Think transferable skills. Don't think job duties, if you're changing careers.

One-on-One Interview Practice, in person or by phone.

More on Successful Job Interviews: Questions and Answers

(c) Fiona MacKay

1 comment:

  1. Excellent information. The books are great - I've got them both and recommend them to anyone.