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Gone are the days when people were given a single purpose for their skills and stuck to it like factory machines. Learn how you can find your transferable work skills and make the sort of career connections that can beef up your employability.

Working outside the box

According to a 2011 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans hold a rough average of 11 jobs between the ages of 18 and 46 (BLS.gov, 2012). Whether you're itching for a change yourself, just entering the workforce after college, or looking to get rehired after a layoff, finding your transferable skills and being imaginative about career connections can help you make a smooth transition.

How to find your transferable skills

A good portion of today's jobs have skills in common. For instance, nearly all office-related positions use the same software platforms, so computer skills gained through any hobby or profession are relevant to office work resumes.

Some transferable skills may not even occur to many job seekers, according to a 2012 report in Forbes. The magazine polled the 10 jobs in highest demand in 2013 for skills encouraged or required in their applicants, and here were the top five:

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Problem solving
  3. Judgment and decision making
  4. Active listening
  5. Computers and electronics

If you look closely at your background, it's likely you'll find that you possess a few if not all of these traits. If you've worked as a mechanic, for instance, you've probably used them all (especially No. 4, if you've fixed things for other people).

This list also bodes well for graduates just starting out in the job market, because it's likely that at least a few of the classes you've taken over the last several years have called for you to exercise these very skills. Also, remember: It isn't necessary to list in detail on your resume how you've used these skills -- save it for the interview.

Career connections

Life in the Internet age is showing us how just about everything is connected in one way or another, and careers are no different. If you think outside the box a bit, you just might find a field in which your job skills can take you further than you ever thought they would.

For instance, graphic designers may focus by default on the public relations and communication design fields, but they're also vitally necessary in computer science sectors such as software development. It's also the case that industrial design firms and aerospace companies need fitters and welders, universities need electricians and networking technicians, architects need photographers, and just about any job sector imaginable has a place for someone who's comfortable communicating in more than one language.

In fact, if you give it enough thought, it's practically impossible to think of a set of job skills that's applicable to a single industry. Take some time to do an in-depth self-assessment of the abstract value of your skill set. You might be surprised just how qualified you are.

Sources

Forbes, "The 10 Skills That Will Get You Hired In 2013," Meghan Casserly, December 10, 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/12/10/the-10-skills-that-will-get-you-a-job-in-2013/
Buckman Enochs Coss and Associates, "5 Job Skills You Didn't Know You Have," http://becsearch.com/newsdetail.aspx?article=9306112
The Wall Street Journal, "Seven Careers in a Lifetime? Think Twice, Researchers Say," Carl Bialik, September 4, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704206804575468162805877990.html
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth Among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey Summary," Economic News Release, July 25, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/nlsoy.nr0.htm

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