I was having a conversation with my friend Amir yesterday that got me thinking about the power of transferable skills and how critical they have been to my growth.
So, in marketing, there’s this concept of the ‘T-Shaped’ marketer.
i.e being generally good at marketing, but then having one specific area where you excel.
Amongst those areas – in my case maybe the ‘area’ is inbound marketing.
Before we go on to talk about inbound marketing in general – let’s consider several things –
In today’s world – it’s become more and more apparent that the ‘gig economy’ is common, job loyalty has minimised, and that people generally switch careers and ‘wear different hats’ more and more.
With this in mind, there’s a truth in developing a specialist set of skills that can have a broad application for whatever work you get involved in will become a massive advantage to you.
And there we begin our journey:
What are transferable skills?
A transferable skill is a particular set of actions that you can perform repeatedly – that have an application to a wide area of activities.
Why bother developing a transferable skill anyway?
Industries are springing out of nowhere quicker than ever before – VR, Crypto, Blockchain, Digital, AI…
There’ll probably be many more.
Furthermore, people are jumping industries throughout their career more and more often.
So having a skill that you can apply cross-industry in the world of diminishing company loyalties (people career and company switch sometimes annually these days), that services the gig economy (the freelancer) many operate in…
And ultimately much like a cat with nine lives sets you up to succeed in whatever environment you walk into – is more important than ever before.
Which skills are transferable?
So in the example of Ion – my head of business development – he comes from a sales background having always sold physical and tangible products.
He’s now moved into selling search engine optimisation – which is TOTALLY different from anything he’s sold historically.
He’s been able to do this because the key skill he has which is eminently transferable is his actual sales skills.
His ability to look at a product, and figure out how to match the skills he has with the product knowledge he continually acquires to deliver a very effective pitch.
How to develop transferable skills?
In Ion’s case – he comes from a business development background having been in sales for over 14 years – longer still including his ‘informal’ sales role – which would bring his experience past the 20 year mark.
So developing transferable skills is a case of identifying something you have/could develop that you choose to work upon.
And then it’s important you achieve relative mastery in that area.
I say mastery because you need to display a high level of skill in that area – enough to the extent that you can move industries and then fall back upon such a skill to make you an asset to the new job/new industry you move into!
What are my transferable skills?
Understanding what your transferable skills are will involve looking at several things:
1. What do you already display a high level of competency in?
It may be the case that you don’t think in your own mind you’re that ‘competent’ at anything (although I’d consider this to be a confidence issue rather than an actual skill issue).
However – whatever the ‘thing’ is – once you’ve identified it the next question is:
2. How useful is this skill to any kind of work environment?
In the example of Ion – his skill is far and away sales. Naturally – there’s no shortage of sales positions for talented sales professionals. However – it’s also the case that Ion would stand to benefit from being a salesperson that’s also highly skilled as compared to other sales professionals.
In this way, it’s easy to identify himself as one of the most talented salespeople
3. What if I’m not sure how transferable this skill is?
If for example, your skill is being extremely good with excel – than it’s definitely a skill you can apply to any industry – but it’s important to look at this from an employer’s return on investment perspective.
4. How useful is you “being a master with excel” going to be for a business?
My common sense tells me that it’s nice to have – but definitely not the main skillset anyone could lead with.
It would make for a fabulous supporting skill whose value would come in handy on many occasions in a work environment – but the skills need to have broad applicability.
A different example of a transferable skill is my head of content’s skill – writing.
As silly or as obvious as that is – Pearl has proven to be an excellent content writer.
It is this skill that has incredible use throughout the Pearl Lemon Group.
I have had her involved in writing website copy for the several tools we have, blogs for the several websites we have, investment case studies for my sales team as well as writing software reviews, alongside analysing team content and ensuring it meets a minimum quality standard.
So the art of writing excellent content for the internet is an incredibly useful skill to have today because of it’s very wide applicability.
What If I Don’t Yet Have A Transferable Skill?
It may be the case that you’re not yet in a place where you feel confident with the skills you currently possess.
Or that you do have a great skill (e.g excel) – but you’re not positive about how useful this skill is across the board.
With this in mind – then it’s a great opportunity to hone a transferable skill – and it’s important to pick something that you both enjoy, and display (ideally) some talent for.
It needs to meet the following criteria:
- Adds value to any small business
- Has value that’s easy to demonstrate in an interview or over a short period
- Clearly impacts a businesses ROI
And it’s useful if it meets the following criteria:
- Is a skill in high demand (e.g marketing, content writing, pr)
- Is something you can confidently SHOW or TELL
If you can nail all of the above – well then it’s a case of going through some aggressive training –
This is why there are coding boot camps, sales training boot camps, and the like – where people go in, learn a skill, and come out with the potential to earn a high income!
Building transferable skills into your resume and cover letter
If you’ve identified a series of solid skills or skill that you have – it’s important to communicate this effectively in your resume or cover letter.
Running with a topline introduction into your skill as demonstrated by some core business results you’ve achieved is an ideal way to consider this.
For Ion – one of the things that struck me with him is that ‘he’s sold over 13 million over the phone’.
Now – how he has calculated that number would be interesting to understand – but nonetheless – it’s such a clear demonstration of a powerful skill that would be incredibly valuable to any organisation.
If you’re a content writer you could write something along the lines of: published 123 blogs across different commercial companies over the last 6 months, with 179,000 words written total, 69 backlinks generated, thus contributing to £57,000 in new business.
Something like that would be extremely powerful.
These sentences could go into both your cover letter and your resume depending upon where you want to fit it.
This is the important part to keep in mind that’s the key for anyone you work with – what commercial value can/has this activity demonstrated/generated.
If you can answer this question then it’ll become self-evident how to add your transferable skill into your resume.
How Is This Knowledge Helping The Pearl Lemon Group?
We circle back now to my conversation with Amir – and one of the outcomes of this was:
How am I able to find the time to start literally 10 things and still try and build them to with ANY degree of competency whatsoever?
- Pearl Lemon (SEO)
- Pearl Lemon Leads (Lead Generation)
- Kemistri (Forex)
- Pearl Lemon Properties (Property)
- Omnireach (SaaS)
- Serpwizz (SaaS)
- Sendkoala (SaaS)
- Plantsumo (Food Subscription/Catering/Events)
- Deepak Shukla (Media Blog)
- Resume Cats (Recruitment Software)
I’m working in all of these spaces – and this is how I’m able to apply a couple of skills uniformly across these areas:
I have an ability that’s semi (80%) automated to generate B2B leads in whatever niche I step into. I also have the ability to take a website in any niche and ultimately rank it on google.
What this means is that I can apply these core skills to any business I get involved in. My core work – ultimately generating leads – doesn’t change that much.
Furthermore – my day job – running an agency and having multiple clients – set’s me up very well to effectively try and manage the fortunes of several businesses at the same time.
Consequently, it means I can apply these same broad skills across all 10 things…without it being the case that anything is being massively neglected. The core skill of identifying a sales professional and then generating leads for him keeps the commercial activity at the forefront of each business.
And then having a team of 6 content writers – means blogging/content production is always in the works.
This is why – I believe transferable skills are so so important – and being a full-service agency owner (as we’re now becoming) – is one of the most useful skills you can have today.
Look at your current skills or skills you’d love to develop – and build as effectively as you can something you can transfer across any industry you like – and you’ll always have a future with brilliant options in front of you!