My skills are transferable…right?
by Molly Wendell
How many times do I hear from people in the job search who say: “I don’t want to focus on any one industry because I believe my skills are transferable.” Guess what? No one else does. What if someone told you your skills weren’t transferable? What would you do then? Why do you think so many companies tell recruiters “I want a CIO from our industry who worked for one of the following companies.” That’s all they’re doing. Pulling people from the competition! And here you are trying to sell them on why you’re a better fit – without any industry experience. Well, guess what. They’re not buying! Aside from the recruiter being open to possibly losing the search because “they weren’t listening and kept bringing in candidates who didn’t meet the spec”, there is an exception to this rule. There is one time in your life when your skills are transferable.
Midway through my two-year search, I met a woman who just landed a VP of Marketing role for a technology company. Wow, I thought. That’s the job I’m looking for! She must have a really great background in running marketing for technology companies! When I asked her how long she’d been in the technology industry, she told me she hadn’t. I had eighteen years in the industry. When I asked her where she was a VP of Marketing previously, she said she wasn’t. She came from the agency side. I had been a VP of Marketing at three previous companies. When I asked her how she found the position, she told me she knew the president. And at that moment, my life changed. It was eye-opening. After getting over the fact that she pretty much stole my job, I started to think about what she did that I didn’t. She networked her way into the job. And from then on, that’s exactly what I decided to do.
If you’re going to network your way into a job that you’re not qualified for (at least on paper), then you really have to figure out what it will take to make them want you. I found that if I asked enough smart questions, people thought I knew their industry. Soon, it led to offers where I was stealing someone else’s job. So quit trying to sell others on why your skills are transferable. Show them that it has nothing to do with your background, and everything to do with how you think and approach problems. Start asking smart questions. You’ll be amazed into which new industries it will lead you.