What Are Transferable Skills and Why Are They Vital?

Never judge a book by its cover, the saying goes, and the same can be said when recruiting staff. In today’s job-hunting world, finding the right candidate can be difficult. One job can sometimes attract up to fifty candidates and beyond, and sifting through them can seem like a thankless task.

So, it’s no surprise that hiring managers overlook some ideal candidates in favour of those that have worked in their industry. However, it is essential that employers take time to look at each candidate and see if they have any transferable skills.

What are Transferable Skills?

These are qualities a potential employee has without actually working in a given industry. They are the core skills a person acquires in one role that can effectively be used in another by applying the same, or similar, principle. Problem-solving, communication, teamwork and leadership are all examples of transferable skills. A person can move easily from industry to industry, as long as their transferable skills are clearly defined.

Sometimes though, softer transferable skills can go unmissed. Soft skills relate to the experience gained in a job role that is part of the job description and expected from the employee.

How Can Soft Transferable Skills Be Identified?

The way to evaluate an application is to take time to properly read it. Some hiring managers will take a quick glance solely at an applicant’s previous job roles. If there are many applications, they may reject the candidate based on what they have done in the past. They could glance at the relevant information, but ultimately prefer a person with industry experience. However, employers who do this are overlooking an opportunity to shape a person into who they want them to be

Case Study

In one of my previous roles in the care industry, I was assisting a manager in the shortlisting process. The manager was only selecting people who had worked previously in the care industry, while dismissing anyone who hadn’t.

Upon reading an application of a rejected candidate, I suggested she be a good choice for an interview. “She’s got no care experience,” came the curt reply.

“No,” I countered. “But she has a lot of transferable skills. Take a look.”

The manager, reluctantly, took another look at the application. It was a young girl who worked behind the bar in a ‘gentleman’s club.’ The manager thought this was highly inappropriate for a position within the care industry. Until I pointed out the skills she had.

Working in that environment would undoubtedly have her encounter some challenging behaviour from the clientele. Perfect for the behaviour of the client – she will have gained experience of handling difficult situations in a professional manner.

She worked behind the bar and therefore had money management experience. The client used petty cash and the ideal candidate would need to be financially aware. Another plus for her.

Working in the evenings and late at night. Compared to some of the other candidates, she already had that experience where some, even those that worked in the industry, didn’t.

Her application highlighted how she met everything on the person specification, but there was a risk of missing out on this girl, simply because of an unconscious prejudice.

To my surprise, the manager took my advice and interviewed the applicant. She turned out to be one of the best candidates for the position. She stood out because she demonstrated how she met the requirements of the role. And, because she hadn’t worked in the industry before, it would be easier to teach her the guidelines, as she was eager to learn. She wouldn’t go into the job thinking she already knew everything. As there were several positions available, this girl was offered one of them. She turned out to be an excellent carer.

Identifying Transferable Skills

At Hypnocat Writing Solutions, we can use our recruitment experience to help you. We can assist with identifying candidates transferable skills so you get the right person for the job. Check out our HR Assistance page to see how we can help you.

The Moral of the Story

An ideal person for a job may be staring you in the face. However, unconscious bias will prevent you from taking their application further. Industry experience is important, but sometimes, life experience can play a crucial role in our workplace development.

Recruiting managers should try, if business time allows, to take every aspect of an application into account. Even if it means sifting through one hundred applications, it is possible you will find that diamond in the rough. And when you do, you’ll be thankful you took the time to look properly.

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