What’s your least favorite part of a job listing? For many job seekers, one source of frustration and discouragement is the list of qualifications.
You may be tempted to avoid a job opportunity when you don’t meet the requirements to the letter. However, when you do this, you diminish your pool of opportunities and potentially keep yourself out of a job that could be a great fit. While many jobs will require core skills, there is a way to demonstrate your ability to do the job effectively, even if you don’t have the exact experience listed.
The key is to identify your transferable skills—those skills that can be applied in a variety of professional settings–and articulate them to employers in a meaningful and relevant way. Quintessential Careers breaks down transferable skills into five main skill sets:
- Communication: Speaking effectively, writing concisely, expressing ideas, listening attentively, reporting, and editing
- Research and planning: Forecasting, identifying problems, extracting important information, setting goals, analyzing and defining needs
- Human relations: Listening, motivating, cooperating, and delegating with respect
- Organization, management, and leadership: Handling details, coordinating tasks, making decisions with others, and managing conflicts
- Work survival: Being punctual, managing time, organizing, and making decisions
To figure out your transferable skills, try these steps:
- Read over your resume. This might sound like a no-brainer, but take a look at what you’ve already listed. Which skills are most frequently found on your resume?
- Review your old job descriptions. Which skills are listed? Which were most important for you to use the job well? (Take it a step further- which were ones in which you were most proficient? Used frequently? Yielded results?)
- Review descriptions of jobs to which you aspire. Which skills are listed? Write them down and determine which are ones you have used at work (and in your personal life). How have you used them and what results did you achieve?
- Identify what you are “known for.” What are some ways that former (and current) supervisors, colleagues, even friends and family have used to describe you?
- If you’re still having trouble, take a skills assessment. Check out the ones featured in The Muse, such as a free version of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). What are your most prominent skills? Which best fit the jobs in which you are interested?
Compare the job to the transferable skills you have. These are the skills you should present to the employer, along with evidence of your achievements that you scored while using those skills.