Murky Waters and Transferable Skills

The murky waters of resumes based on transferable skills

From time to time, my resume writers and I get contacted by people wanting to change fields or industries and ask for a version – or 2nd version – of their resumes based on transferable skills, hoping to get hired based on skills they have acquired that they believe are like those required for a position outside of the sweet spot of their experience or knowledge. For example, they might want to change from selling financial investments to high net worth clients to selling them cars or jewelry or houses. Those are B2C transactions to the same customer, just a different product. More frequently we see a client want to change from sales of financial products to consumers to, for example, sales of pharmaceuticals to doctors and hospitals. Note that is a 2-degree change – a different product and a switch from B2C to B2B. And the more degrees of separation, the more difficult the change.

Can a client get a job based on transferable skills?

Of course, finding a job based on transferable skills can be done but requires a well-thought out job search and networking strategy.

What does this mean to resume writers?

In the resume writing world, any time someone even breathes the words “transferable skills”, trouble could be lurking. Does the client have a clear picture of the specific skills and what they are transferable to? Does the client have evidence that the hiring companies would actually hire someone into that job based on transferable skills if there is a qualified person with the actual skills and experience they are looking for? Odds are if the client doesn’t have clarity, a resume writer can’t (or shouldn’t) take on that task – it is a coaching exercise.  If the client has the money, he/she could invest in some career coaching to help figure it out. This could be provided by the resume writer if he/she is also a career coach or by a 3rd party. At a minimum, the resume writer can give the client homework to help figure it out before starting to write.

When should the resume writer decline an engagement?

Sometimes it is necessary to walk away from this business. Resume writers are not magicians or psychics – and most are not trained career coaches. I recommend that if a client asks for a resume based on “transferable skills”, the resume write should make sure that it is do-able. Otherwise, the client and the resume writer can end up frustrated and unhappy. If it is being done as a 2nd resume, it is probably best to do it after the 1st one is completed and approved. If 2nd one isn’t do-able, it is easier to walk away from it if necessary without losing the 1st one.