Job Quest Underway? Discover Your Buried Treasure | Transferable Skills As Career Doubloons

It’s unnerving to be out of work. Starting the job hunt can be gut-wrenching. We can even get confused about how to answer these simple questions:

  • What do know how to do?
  • What jobs should I apply for?
  • How do I get started? 

The temptation is to slap together a resume with a chronology of past jobs, titles, and duties. Then, with guns blazing, fire them out to every job board, classified ad, or on-line posting. Ugh!

And the hunt goes on!  

Interesting, isn’t it? Companies are hunting for a great candidate while you’re hunting for a job. So you’re both in the same boat, looking for treasure.

Here’s the problem: You’re focused on all the tasks you did in the past and the company is looking for skilled candidates for the future. Their quest is for the skills you can transport to their open job.

The solution is to figure out and give names to the skills you have in your wheelhouse. Although it’s not that difficult, why don’t most job seekers do this? It’s because:

  • They don’t have the insight.
  • They don’t know the terms.
  • They resist acknowledging their own value. 

Amazing, isn’t it? We have skills that we’ve been successful using. But when we have to assign “important sounding” words to describe them, we start to feel like an imposter.

My advice: “Get over it!” We need to prepare and accept a solid inventory of our transferable skills to get the best job. Those skills are the treasure we own and the treasure a company wants. So don’t keep it buried!

Make your resume your treasure chest. 

If you don’t market your transferable skills, it’s as though they don’t exist. Your resume is where all your skill doubloons are stored. 

Start by answering this question: What do you know how to do and how have you put your skills to work to make an impact? Your past behavior predicts your future behavior.

You can find out which transferable skills companies are looking by reading job postings and job descriptions closely. Go on-line and find out what different types of jobs require.

Look within yourself and inventory your transferable skills. Write them down and then highlight the ones that are your strongest suit.  Those are the ones you want to showcase in your resume.

Here’s a categorized starter list of transferable skills that should help:

Communication: persuasiveness, negotiating, speaking, writing, training, influencing

Interpersonal: teamwork, coaching, customer service, conflict management, employee development/engagement

Leadership: managing, supervising, motivating, decisiveness, problem-solving, delegating, integrity, innovation

Technical: analysis, data management, accounting, planning and organizing

Professional: ethics, integrity, adaptability, tolerance for stress, ability to learn, dependability, attention to detail, initiative

The transferable skills in your resume show the recruiter where the treasure is—in you! When you define yourself and your work using these words, you will see yourself in a brighter light. That’s how a hiring manager will see you too!

Keep digging.

Our transferable skills keep growing. So we need to keep our skills inventory updated. Each new job enriches our skills stash, making us more enticing candidates for bigger and better opportunities.

Acknowledging our transferable skills is immensely liberating and confidence building. Our business fitness is measured by how prepared and ready we are to make our next move.  When it comes to our transferable skills, we don’t have to be the best ever with any of them. We just need to be the best a company can find for what they are willing to pay. After all, treasure chests come in all sizes!

What transferable skills have been your greatest asset? Where did they get you? Thanks for sharing!

Gotcha! “Job Mistakes 101” | A Performance Leg Up

Errors. Mistakes. Gaffs. We worry about them. Try to avoid them. But they lurk and get us when we’re not looking. When our mistakes teach us something, they have value. When they don’t, we’ve failed ourselves.

“If you never make a mistake, you aren’t doing anything.”

That’s a great adage. I know people who:

  • Can’t decide or act for fear of making a mistake
  • Work in dread that they will make an error
  • Avoid the “risk” of a new opportunity 

Mistakes (even other people’s) are great teachers. That’s how you’ve been learning all along, from riding a bike to negotiating a good car deal.

Trial and error is a good thing. It’s how we figure things out.

Since we aren’t made to be perfect, we make mistakes. If you keep making the same mistakes, that’s a problem. Repeated gaffs will end up on your performance appraisal. So you’ll need to fix that:

  • Improve your job skills and/or knowledge 
  • Pay attention to the details
  • Care about doing things right
  • Use established work processes
  • Ask, if you don’t know, before you act 

Your employer’s big concern is the cost of error, and it should be. The consequences of mistakes can be:

  • Loss of revenue or time
  • Disruption to customers and other employees
  • Regulation or code violation penalties/fines
  • Financial impacts or law suits
  • Loss of productivity or damaged equipment 

Now think about your job. What are the potential consequences of errors that you might make? If you kept making them, how would they affect the ability of your work group, your boss, your peers and you to be successful?

Little mistakes can add up, but only if we don’t care about fixing them. That’s why supervisor feedback is so important. No one goes to work wanting to make mistakes, but when we do, we need to be told so we won’t repeat them.

For most of us, the likelihood of making a catastrophic error is pretty small.  

All mistakes are not created equal.

As a manager, I was responsible for a monthly electricity rate update for key customers, a priority initiative for the CEO. These updates included sensitive copy and graphs that were painstakingly reviewed by countless experts. In spite of that, I managed to grind one out each month.

The February issue was my nemesis. It started out as the January issue but the up-tight review process pushed it into February. After the data had been updated and approved, off to the printer it went.

A day later, I got my copy before the bulk mailing started. For some reason, I read it one more time and saw that that the chart still said January even though it was the February issue. I’d missed the error.  

I called my VP, expecting to be reamed out. I was sweating.

“Okay,” he said. “Tell Corporate Communications to make the fix and get the printer to redo it.”

Stupidly I asked, “What should I do with all these copies.”

“Throw them out,” he quipped. That printing cost $10,000.  

The cost of mistakes is relative.  

This was a big lesson for me. A $10,000 mistake to a $1.2 billion company is pocket change. It’s still hard for me to get my head around that, even though I’ve personally seen multi-million dollar errors dismissed almost as easily.

It taught me to keep things in perspective. A lot of people could have caught that error. They didn’t. This project was on my watch, so I owned the mistake.

Others had much bigger fish to fry that day. My project was a communications update. If that piece had been mailed to customers, I’m sure that fur would have flown. In a sense I got points for avoiding that.

It’s important for us all to see mistakes as opportunities to become more business fit: to sharpen our skills and senses, learn how to improve things, and avoid turning our missteps into shackles. Be brave!  Be careful!

Have you ever made a “big” work mistake? How did you recover? What did you learn? We’ll all be better for your lesson.