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There’s no sugar coating it: the pandemic has had a hugely negative impact on Australia’s employment market. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, and in June, around 280,000 people started looking for work again. Many people have been forced to find a new job, and for some, it’s triggered a need to switch industries – or pursue a new career altogether.

If you’re one of these people, highlighting your transferrable skills during your job search is vital. Even if you don’t have direct experience in a particular field or industry, your transferrable skills (skills used in one job or career that can also be used in another) can still open doors in new industries or help you switch career paths. But how can you identify these skills, and highlight them to prospective employers?

Discovering your transferrable skills

Have you ever found a way to improve a process at work, and convinced other people in your team to follow suit? If you have, you’ve already got a solid example of several key transferrable skills: problem-solving, communication and collaboration.

According to Indeed, the most desirable skills that can help you succeed in any industry include decision-making, multitasking, creative problem-solving and communication. These skills are also highly sought after in the accounting and finance world, alongside other key attributes such as professionalism and integrity. Try to think back to times – either in your personal life or professional life – where you’ve demonstrated these skills.

Other valuable transferrable skills you could highlight include:

  • Interpersonal skills: handling customer complaints well, motivating other team members or providing and accepting healthy criticism are all strong examples of interpersonal skills.
  • Management skills: coordinating resources, delegating tasks, monitoring budgets and recruiting new staff all demonstrate your ability to lead teams and take on a managerial role.
  • Organisational and analytical skills: reviewing figures and statistics, consolidating accounts, investigating inconsistencies, and managing deadlines and multiple tasks or clients effectively all serve as proof that you’re organised and able to think critically.

How to highlight your transferrable skills when applying for new jobs

If you’re applying for roles in a new industry or sector, it’s important that you communicate your transferrable skills both in your initial application and any subsequent interviews. There are several ways you can do this.

Create a skills-based resume

A skills-based resume, also known as a functional resume, focuses on your accomplishments and skills, as opposed to writing out your duties in your previous roles. For example, instead of saying:

”Prepared special financial reports by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing account information and trends”.

You would focus on what you accomplished by doing this and the impact it made on the business while highlighting your transferrable skills:

“Used strong analytical skills to compile and deliver timely and accurate financial reports which informed company strategy and helped us hit our annual revenue growth target of 5%”.

The above statement clearly demonstrates analytical skills and organisational skills, as well as competence.

You can highlight your transferrable skills in all areas of your resume, including your career objective/personal summary and your descriptions of previous roles. You can also add a “relevant skills” section before your employment history if you like. But whichever way you choose to lay it out, always make sure your resume reflects the same language used in the job ad.

Talk about your transferrable skills during interviews

The secret here is preparation. Think about the skills you know the company is looking for and prepare verbal examples of when you’ve demonstrated these skills. It’s okay to share examples from previous roles where you’ve used these skills in another context, providing you communicate a clear link between the too. For example, if you’ve never worked in a customer service role before but the interviewer asks about your customer service experience, you could instead refer to a time where you’ve actively listened to someone’s problems – perhaps a client or another college – and have suggested an effective solution that helped them overcome their challenges.

The same goes for more specific questions about your experience too. For example, if an interviewer asks if you’re familiar with a kind of accounting software that you haven’t used before, you could say: 

“I haven’t used this specific software before, but in my previous role I had to use X software which I was also unfamiliar with when I started. However, I set time aside to get up to speed, watched some online tutorials, asked a lot of questions and after a couple of weeks I was very comfortable with it.”

Try to remember the odds aren’t necessarily stacked against you – many employers would rather hire someone who can demonstrate key skills in different contexts, as opposed to someone who’s followed a linear career path.

Finding a new job can be tough, especially in these uncertain times, but there is some good news. As of August, recruitment seems to be picking up in several key industries, including information and communication technology, human resources and recruitment and banking and finance. If you’re an accounting, finance or business support professional looking for work contact us today to see how we can help.

Amanda Alter - Accounting and Finance Recruitment Director

Amanda Alter, Recruitment Director, Accountancy Options

Amanda has been recruiting for over 20 years both in Melbourne and international markets. An expert in senior accounting and finance roles, Amanda is a highly respected recruiter and a true leader within the business. Amanda’s clients love her engaging personality and proactive approach, and she’s well-known for her ability to turn around any brief quickly and efficiently.

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