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5 Transferable Skills Career Changers Should Emphasize

If you're thinking about moving to a new career or industry, you're not alone. But making a shift in your career path can be overwhelming if you have no direct experience in the industry or position that you'd like to move into. You may feel like you can't even make a lateral move, but rather you'd have to take a step back or start at square one.

However, that's not always the case. You likely have more transferable skills than you realize -- you just need to know how to market your applicable experience. Uncover these "hidden" skills and use them to make the career change you're craving.

Image source: Getty Images.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are both hard and soft professional skills that can be applied in multiple jobs or industries. For example, 57% of business leaders queried in a LinkedIn survey said that soft skills are most important.

A critical component when applying to work in a new industry is to show that while you don't have prior experience in the role, you do have quantifiable experience that will relate and help you succeed. Instead of using broad and cliche resume terms (think: motivated, results-oriented, organized), emphasize the following transferable skills to show that you're a well-rounded and valuable candidate for the role.

1. Project management

Project management requires planning, controlling, and executing work related to a project with multiple stakeholders to achieve specific objectives. The great news is you may have this skill without even realizing it. If you've ever served as the point person on a project that had multiple employees involved, especially if you had a successful outcome, you can apply that experience when interviewing for project management roles.

If you don't want to move into project management, these skills are still helpful to share because they show that you can multitask, prioritize, and exercise time management. They also show that you know how to work cross-functionally with many different types of employees.

Resume example: Successfully managing seven new projects per quarter across multiple departments has provided me with a solid foundation in project management and cross-department communications.

2. Writing

Whether you're crafting email correspondence or writing copy for a website, the ability to write accurately, clearly, and concisely can apply to many different careers. Examples of valuable writing skills can range from creating reports and presentations to developing marketing materials or landing page copy.

Reflect on the specific writing that you've done in past jobs, and how it can apply to your ideal new position. If you feel you can adapt your writing style to different mediums (i.e., writing for customers or shareholders), highlight this transferable skill. If appropriate, you can also include writing samples.

Resume example: In previous roles, I've effectively communicated ideas and concepts via daily internal company memos and meeting notes. I feel I can parlay those skills into writing employee handbooks and memos in an HR capacity.

3. Customer service

Most businesses, no matter the vertical, deal with customers. If you've worked in a customer-facing role, then you've likely mastered the highly valuable soft skill of communicating with people effectively. Consider how your customer service background can be helpful in the role you want to apply to. Even in a marketing role, this can be valuable because you know how to speak to the customer -- and that's what marketing boils down to. While this may not get you into an advanced marketing position immediately, it could be just what you need to get your foot in the door.

Resume example: I have 6+ years of customer service experience, including successfully responding to and resolving weekly customer complaints, which gives me valuable insight on how to work with clients in all industries.

4. Employee management

If you've managed employees, even interns or part-time staff, be sure to include it on your resume. Employee management experience shows that you know how to motivate staff, problem-solve, and delegate work.

Remember, as with any experience on your resume, be specific with your management experience. List the specific responsibilities you've held and how many people you've managed.

Resume example: I trained and managed a team of five part-time interns for two summers, after which I was promoted to a position with seven freelancers reporting directly to me.

5. Research

Many professional positions require some level of research. Even if you were simply in an admin/support role and researched locations to host an event, you know how to perform targeted research to produce results -- this can be applied to many roles.

One area to exercise caution is with jobs that require specific analysis skills; you don't want to misrepresent yourself. For example, analyzing and researching trends in customer behavior is a lot different than analyzing data for digital marketing. Be specific about the type of research and analysis you've worked in, and find ways that it can fit into the new role.

Resume example: I researched five new company initiatives for the events team, including in-depth vendor research, cost analysis, and networking to find industry referrals and candid feedback, which led to successful and profitable events throughout our 2017 season.

Market your transferable skills to change your career

When you want to make a career pivot, you'll have to work even harder to sell yourself as a viable candidate to employers, especially if you don't have direct experience. Luckily, your past roles and skills can relate to many new fields, so uncover those transferable professional skills and use them to your advantage.

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Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Glassdoor has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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