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Five Ways to Transfer Your Skills to Another Industry

By: Steven Porter

Blame Your Kindergarten Teacher?

Since the first day of Kindergarten, our educational system has implied that the path to success goes from school, to career, to a professional peak, and ends when you comfortably retire. So, why isn't this working for us anymore?

What if, after 20 years on that career path, you find yourself unemployed? Let's assume your entire industry is on a rapid decline and it could take years before your old job returns - if ever. And now, when you should be at the peak moment of your career, you realize you need to start all over again.

Today's Career Paths

Welcome to today's new career cycle. According to the AARP's recent study on America's multigenerational workforce [PDF], the traditional employment cycle has changed. Your new reality: get educated/trained, find a job, peak, re-invent yourself, re-train, find another job, peak, and reinvent yourself yet again in a continuing cycle that only ends one day with your eventual retirement. Okay, so it's not your Kindergarten teacher's fault, but it's clear that our educational system didn't stock us with the knowledge needed to thrive within this new workforce cycle.

Getting Ready to Change

The key to landing a job, especially if you're jumping from your industry to another, is identifying your transferable skills - skills that you may have learned on the job or elsewhere that you can apply to a new career.

Five Ways to Transfer Those Skills

Here are a few basic tips on how to identify transferable skills and successfully move into the next stage of your new career cycle.

1. Study

Read and learn about the job market in your area and become an expert on trends. Study popular job postings with a highlighter, noting those skills you already have, even in industries you have never considered. Make note of those skills you still need. Pay attention to detail and keep an open mind.

2. Evaluate

Be honest with yourself about what you can do. Most seasoned workers have accumulated valuable supervisory, organizational and management "soft skills" over their career, which they often don't consider.

3. Train

It's not too late to learn a new language! Are you staying on top of new technology? What courses does your local library or adult education program offer? Free training exists all over the web, including at Lynda.com, a self-paced software training site that includes many freebies, a large selection of training modules, and a reasonably-priced paid membership to gain access to all of their training.

4. Stay Active

Volunteer work, part-time positions, and temporary jobs can help fill holes in your skill set and will build value in you as a candidate.

5. Revise

Re-organize and rewrite your resume and cover letter, emphasizing your great accomplishments and abilities over your job titles and work experience. Brag! Brag! Brag!

As our nation pulls out of the recession and the unemployment rate drops, hiring managers are turning more to non-traditional candidates to fill critical vacancies. By re-focusing your skill set, you will be successful.