How to convince prospective employers that you have the transferable skills to successfully change careers

By Angela Hayes, Associate Director of Alumni and Online Career Engagement

For the last few months I’ve spoken to numerous alumni who would like to change to a job/career that they’ve not done before. They are curious about how to convince a prospective employer that they are qualified to make the switch. There are a number of things to consider.

First, remember that it is your responsibility to illustrate to an employer that you have the transferable skills needed for a new job or industry. Often, job seekers send out generic resumes through an online system and hope that hiring managers can see how their skills will translate. Hiring managers don’t have the time to imagine how your skills might translate. They are going through resumes very quickly. They are much more likely to hire someone who has experience doing the same or a similar job in the past, unless you spell out specifically how your skills and experience would be a great fit. Here are some ways to convince a potential employer of the value of your transferable skills:

  • To greatly increase your chances of being considered for a job using your transferable skills, work to get a positive referral from someone the employer knows and trusts. Employers are trying to decrease risk when they are hiring new employees. Having a solid referral who can speak to your ability to take on the job responsibilities reduces that risk.
  • Do your research. In order to illustrate that you have the skills for an industry or specific position within that industry, you must do your research on the skills needed and then speak to how your skills would make you successful. Show that you understand what’s needed to be successful, and be prepared to offer examples of how the skills you have used before would translate easily into the new role.
  • Research the profiles of others who are successful in the roles that interest you. One easy place to do this is LinkedIn. Look at the types of skills and training that people have in these roles. If you notice some gaps in your skills/training, get to work gaining those skills. There are numerous low to no cost options to gain additional job skills.
  • Find volunteer work that will not only teach you skills that you can apply to a new job or industry, but will also give you some solid work examples that you can share with prospective employers. The networking that often comes with volunteer work can also open doors for you.
  • Spend most of your job search time talking with people directly. As mentioned earlier, sending out hundreds of resumes in the hopes that an employer will be able to tell that you could be a good fit works very, very rarely. Request informational interviews with people who are doing the kinds of things you’d like to do. Not only will you get valuable information/advice but you will be networking in a very powerful way. In an informational interview, you are asking questions and the other person is doing most of the talking. People love to talk about themselves and are likely to leave the interaction with a positive view of you, which could lead to exciting new opportunities.
Angela Hayes, Associate Director of Alumni and Online Career Engagement

ANGELA HAYES serves as the Associate Director of Alumni and Online Career Engagement. Prior to coming to CSU, she worked as the Assistant Director of Alumni and Graduate Student Career Services at Kansas State University. She has a B.S. in psychology, an M.S. in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. in professional coaching and human development. She’s a nationally Board Certified Coach and a nationally Certified Health and Wellness Coach.

She has a passion for helping others to see their lives as full of possibilities and un-tapped potential. She views changes/transitions (both planned and unplanned) as opportunities for individuals to discover and plan out what they really want from their careers and lives.