I can’t get a job because I have no experience..

Transferable Skills – You might have more experience than you think!

Are you always feeling somewhat under qualified, or can’t find any evidence of how your skills or experience may fit the job criteria?

Do you think you have little capacity to fit the bill every time you search SEEK online?

Well it’s time to change your thinking.

If you start to dig below the surface of how you perceive your personal and professional experience, you may find a few hidden gems just waiting to shine.

Whether you haven’t worked for a very long time, you haven’t worked at all, or you have been trying to change careers for a long time, there are always some valuable skills and qualities you have earned from your life experience. These skills sets and qualities are called Transferable Skills and they can be fundamental to finding work.

So what interests an employer besides my current work history?   

Employers can be persuaded by a variety of things other than just an obvious skills match. Admittedly getting past the strict parameters set by recruitment companies and HR Teams can be nigh on impossible, however some workplaces may want more than just a list of responsibilities from your latest job profile.

This is where your TRANSFERABLE SKILLS may come in handy.

Transferable skills, sometimes known as Employability Skills, are the skills we acquire as a result of life experiences, employment and in many cases roles or responsibilities we have undertaken outside of the work environment.  This could be parenting, coaching, volunteering, managing, mentoring or assisting in community events, families, sports or schools.

Identifying your transferable skills is one of the most important steps in the job-seeking process and often overlooked by those who feel they have no relevant experience.

For example a job may advertise for a receptionist who is;

“A friendly professional who can utilise organisational skills and bring a  high level of motivation.”

Your organisational skills and motivation may not come directly from a reception role but could be transferred from experience doing book work for your partner’s home business or from volunteering to coach and manage your child’s sports team.

Generally speaking the eight transferable or employability skills are thus;

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Planning and organising
  • Self-management
  • Learning
  • Technology

When you identify how you utilise these skills in your daily life, it may surprise you how frequently or how expertly you do them. These skills may encompass your general capabilities, your qualities, your technical abilities and reflect your values and attitudes.

It’s true some employers may only be interested in your “relevant experience” but some may prefer a less experienced candidate who has great attitude and leadership skills than one who has all the right skills but is dull as dishwater and very robotic.

It is quite well known in the hiring and firing industry that managers may in fact prefer to  “ Hire for attitude not for skill”.  There is a general consensus that a number of job skills can be learned, but personality and motivation cannot. Aside from jobs that require purely technical expertise, your personal attributes and qualities may unearth a very viable candidate. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to identify and sell your transferable skills on your own, so asking for assistance can be a great idea. The career consultants at the Skills and Jobs Centre are experts at being able to listen and identify skills you may never have recognised, or had thought were irrelevant. They can also help you contextualise your soft skills and life experiences within a resume.

I strongly recommend a face to face consultation with a career counsellor, as this gives you the time to share your story and  experiences so your advisor can capitalise on all you may have to offer. Sometimes this can feel overwhelming or a little like putting yourself up on a “pedestal”. However, in this competitive job market you have to put your best foot forward and selling all of your skills and abilities is vital.

And remember,

 “Company knowledge and job-specific skills can be learned, but you can’t train a personality.”

Source: Richard Branson on hiring Virgin Staff.

Written by Erika, our Workshop Wizard. If you would like to talk to someone about your transferable skills, book a one-on-one appointment with Erika or any of our advisors.

Picture credit: London Permaculture

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