Getting that Job: Make the most of your skills

In today's job market, it is likely that you will experience different roles and working environments. To reach your full potential it pays to be flexible and adaptable, especially if you're looking at a change in career. A good way to start is by recognising your transferable skills.

Transferable skills

These are the skills that you have built up during any job or activity that you can apply to other jobs. You can build up skills through all sorts of activities – jobs, projects, volunteer work, hobbies, sports, virtually anything. These skills can include:

  • communication – being able to communicate by speaking, in writing or by email in the right way for the audience
  • teamwork – being a constructive team member, contributing practically to the success of the team
  • leadership – motivating and encouraging others while taking the lead
  • initiative – seeing opportunities and setting and achieving goals
  • solving problems – thinking things through in a logical or creative way to work out the most important problems
  • flexibility and being able to adapt – changing and adapting to new situations
  • being self aware – knowing your strengths and skills and having the confidence to put these across
  • commitment and motivation – having energy and enthusiasm when carrying out projects
  • interpersonal skills – relating well to others and building up good working relationships
  • numeracy – understanding and using information such as numbers, statistics and graphs

Identifying the skills you have now

You probably already have valuable transferable skills that could make you a good candidate for a job. Think back through the jobs you have done, your hobbies and the other things you’re involved in. Then using the list above write down the skills that you have. Here is an example:You have always worked in administrative jobs in offices as part of a team, so you have good teamwork and communication skills. In your spare time you also help to run a Brownie pack. This means that you have other skills that you can transfer to a job: initiative and leadership skills to name two.However, it can sometimes be difficult to identify your own strengths. This is where an interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser can help. An adviser will know about other organisations that may be able to help you identify and gain the skills you need. Friends and relatives may also be able to help you work out your strengths that are also your transferable skills.

Identifying skills you will need in the future

When you’re looking at the skills you have, you may also identify areas where you’re not so strong. There’s no need to worry about this as there are ways to develop the skills you need so you can get where you want to be.First you need to decide what kind of job you want, for example hospitality. Once you know what type of job you’d really like, do some research into the skills and experience that these jobs normally need. Compare these to the list you have made of your transferable skills and find any gaps. Then use the list below for suggestions on how to develop the skills you need.

Developing new transferable skills

You can develop new skills in a variety of ways. You may want to consider:

  • doing some voluntary work
  • taking part in a hobby, committee or group
  • doing some part-time work
  • registering with a recruitment agency and doing some temporary work
  • going on a training course

All of these activities can help you develop new skills and experience, and they’ll boost your self-confidence and social life too. Remember that developing your skills helps you to find work, stay in work and get further in your career.Many of the employers that Jobcentre Plus works with, such as those involved in Local Employment Partnerships, also want to help you develop your skills for work. They may be able to offer you opportunities such as coaching from their employees and training before you start work.

Applying your transferable skills to a job application

If you’re applying for a type of job that you haven’t done before, transferable skills can help you show an employer that you have the right skills for the job.Let’s assume that you have switchboard and typing skills, but that you haven’t had contact with customers in your previous jobs. For the last three years, you have been a representative for a local Christmas club, where you help people to save up over the year, so that they can pay for the extra costs at Christmas. This means that you’ve become confident in talking to customers face-to-face, answering questions by phone and handling complaints.

Provided by Job Centre Plus