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Top 7 tips to optimize transferable skills

How to use transferable skills? You might not be aware you possess transferable skills and are not making the most of them. Here are some examples of how I used transferable skills to change my career.

An acquaintance recently quizzed me on my career progression. He had only recently learnt that I had been a teacher for a good part of my life. How had I made the shift in career from teaching to writing, to conducting workshops and being part of events and seminars on leadership training, he wondered out loud.

I speak to people about the benefits of being multipotential and using their skills to continue being passionate about their job. I reckon that being able to tap all your resources, as being one of the most significant attitudinal changes that you can make, to stay on top of things.

When I ponder over how my professional life has panned out, I realise that it was this very practice that paved the way for bigger things. I, subconsciously utilised my experience as a teacher and the skills that I had honed on the job, to become a public speaker.

Lessons learnt as a teacher

Ten years of teaching had removed all traces of nervousness and anxiety that plagued me when I had first started. Speaking to a class of 40 students, six days a week helped instil a certain confidence in me and made me aware of my latent potential. I literally 'learnt stuff on my feet' as, I stood facing a roomful of young enthusiastic faces, each day. And this concept of 'learning on your feet' is applicable in all fields. Everyone has new experiences at work; it is for you to learn from them.

My humble profession moulded and shaped me into a new person. I wasn't consciously aware of the changes that were occurring in my personality. But, once I recognized the transformation that had happened, I made a deliberate effort to utilize the new potential, in a productive manner.
It's not difficult for you to do the same. While I cannot guide you on the skills that you can imbibe from your professional life, I can definitely show you how I made them work for me. My journey could possibly inspire you to look within yourself and discover hidden passions and skills to further your career.

Grab the opportunities

Life is forever throwing opportunities at you to learn new things; pick up key components on your journey and add them to your personality. Ants teach you perseverance, working moms demonstrate their multitasking skills, students preparing for competitive exams display determination, the part-time maids who work in different homes show time-management skills. There are people all around from whom you can learn to capitalise on the skills that you possess. Take cues from them and refine yourself.

When I first decided to take a break from teaching, I was hesitant. I had been offered an editing position, where I was required to edit content, make it print worthy and provide feedback to the writers. My first reaction was that I wasn't up to it, considering, computers and the internet were a whole different world for me.

Nevertheless, I gave it a shot, and took on this new position, rather comfortably. I drew strength from my previous experience - the confidence that I had developed, in my earlier profession, gave me an edge.

You can find that confidence too. There will always be skills that you can apply to another industry.

Marry passion with skill

As a teacher, I had become adept at teaching complex topics, by splitting them into smaller, comprehensible capsules. I do the same today – on the surface my job may seem complex, but I use the same old skillsets to share my thoughts, with groups of people.

It is one thing to be knowledgeable and conversant on different topics, but being able to share the same with others, in a manner which is both logical and convincing, is quite another ballgame.

I was immensely passionate about teaching, it was never just a job. I always made that extra effort to engage my students in the classroom. I improvised and made lessons interesting. The creative lessons made knowledge sharing a pleasure – the information thus shared was easily ingested. I do the same now; it is an effective utilization of my communication skills.

You too can look for avenues that allow you to combine your passion with a newly acquired skill.

Knowledge is your armoury

When I first began freelancing as a writer, I had no experience creating press releases or writing web content, but since I could write, I found myself standing at a sort of a starting point. I did some research, learned the craft of creating web content, knowing that it would open new doors for me.

If you aspire to do something, don't shy away from using your talent to reach your goals. You need to believe in yourself before you pivot into a new field. And learn new things. I wouldn't have achieved a fraction of what I have, had I not pushed myself to the limit. I didn't give up my thirst for knowledge.

Ultimately, your talent and knowledge are the things that will remain with you. When you become involved in something new, get your hands dirty, learn all the tricks. Start by learning the basics and then take it on from there. Create your own learning chart because you stand to gain from it.

Go above and beyond

Being passionate about your work helps. Getting the attention of a roomful of students, with different personalities, can be quite challenging. I was very young when I began teaching and my exuberance translated into a passion. I became passionate not just about teaching, but also my students.

Passion for what you do is what matters, be it teaching or be it what you do. You find a connection when you become passionate. And that helps you find ways to smoothen the bumpy ride.

I became a good narrator, engaging my young audience through interesting facts. I took the lessons beyond the curriculum but linked them to it.

You need to make what you do appeal to an audience comprising of diverse personalities. I use the same engaging tone (that I used as a teacher) when addressing people – be it writing a100-word snippet, or a detailed piece. I also story-tell, when addressing a live audience.

The tip here is to use an engaging style that gets people's attention. If you are into marketing, use conversation as a tool – get people's attention through vivid descriptions and don't forget the research; you got to present facts.

Focus on short and long-term goals

Making lesson plans is mandatory for teachers – it comes with the territory. This simple, routine task, made me plan my short and long-term goals. A lot of planning went into each lesson plan – it included the topics that were to be covered in a given week, activities that were to be part of it, teaching-aids that I'd use etc. Lesson plans required that I be prepared for points that could spring up, in the course of the lessons. I had to anticipate queries that the students could have or unforeseen rain if the lesson required a field-trip.

The lesson plans were not just an obligation, they were a roadmap for the week. Planning helps, no matter what you do. I always keep a Plan B up my sleeve.

Identifying your goals and working out solutions for every roadblock, is a good way to start. Go for meetings organised and prepared. Anticipate the questions that you could be asked. Plan, not just for the meeting, but plan ahead - have that roadmap (strategy) with you!

Partner with empathy and patience

Being prepared still didn't make things easy for me. Even if I had done all the groundwork, I was still having to deal with a class full of different students. Every child was different, with different needs and needing a different kind of motivation and attention.

I had to push myself to reach out to them; empathy and patience became my partners. I realised early that not all students in my class could learn the same way. There were slow learners and distracted and disinterested pupils and I had to be patient and understanding and employ different methods to work with them.

The same is true in our everyday lives. Not everyone is on the same bandwidth as us. So, when you are dealing with people, be aware that something that is clear in your head, might be incomprehensible to them. It is fine to let them interject and ask questions. In fact, you must provide them with that opportunity where they can clear their doubts. Adjust your approach as you handle clients, head meetings etc. Learn to tactfully bring alive your points, when you make your pitch, and always know your audience. That is the most important - you have to either bring it down or raise it up, to their level.

Winding up

If you notice, the skills outlined in the article are not exceptional; they are regular everyday skills that everyone possesses in varying amounts. Once you have these transferable skills, you can exploit them to your advantage and create a niche for yourself. I just showed you the method that worked for me, you can make your own blueprint.

Stop worrying about the lack of motivation or formal qualifications to get on board on a new career path. Instead, focus on how you can tap the skills you own and make them applicable to a new role.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana


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