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GradStaff (Avenica) Manager on The Importance of Transferable Skills

Posted on: January 13th, 2017

A common misconception many recent college graduates have is that non-professional jobs are irrelevant to their career goals. Even though you may not want to work as a barista in a coffee shop for the rest of your life, it is important to understand the significance of the transferable skills that you are able to offer to an employer. While it is not a professional role, your resume should be transparent about the skill sets gained from such experiences because it demonstrates qualities of motivation and strong work ethic.

At the entry level, an employer can train the specifics of the role as it relates to the industry. However, in order to make a hiring decision, they want to have confidence that you have the basic set of transferable skills to be a valuable employee.  A transferable skill is an ability that you can carry with you from job to job and is not limited to a specific academic discipline. Some examples of transferable skills are: team orientation, positivity, motivation, communication, interpersonal skills, problem solving, organization, leadership, empathy, dependability, adaptability, etc.  As I reflect on my current role, I am amazed at all of the skills I use regularly that I have gained through previous jobs, organizations I was involved with on campus, and even volunteer experiences. 

My favorite job from high school through college was working in the restaurant industry at Red Lobster.  I was there for about 8 years, starting as a hostess and then becoming a server.  Making the transition to a server was the best decision I could have made for my personal growth.  I gained confidence in my communication skills and was able to build relationships with diverse clientele; the fast paced environment pushed me to be organized and prioritize; and it was my first exposure to sales in the form of “up-selling” food and drink items.

At the time, I did not realize I was acquiring transferable skills that I could easily apply to a professional setting.  Yet, I’ve learned that in order for experience to be relevant, it does not always need to be professional experience. To this day, I regularly hear clients say that they look for candidates with serving experience because of the dynamic skill sets that they can offer to a company. This can apply to positions outside of serving as well!   Whether you are a landscaper for a small company, nannying for a family of three, or even volunteering at a local food shelf or animal shelter – you are developing a unique set of skills that an employer will find beneficial to a workplace. Remember, your experience IS relevant.  As you take a look at your past and current roles, you will be surprised to uncover the skill sets you’ve gained that actually hold a lot of weight while being considered for many professional positions. Reflect on your own experiences!

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