Transferable skills are your STARs
Believe it or not you are all equipped with many transferable skills. I work with many professionals including quite a number of vets. In common with many professional groups, their work is skilled, often vocational and completely wrapped up in their professional identity. That means expressing their skills, whether for a networking introduction or a job application in a different sector, can be really hard to get their head around.
Communicating your transferable skills in a way that avoids jargon, puts skills into context for your own and other job contexts and uses the language of HR professionals is essential when applying for any job.
It is really useful to start recording your transferable skills into a skills menu as part of your CV or resume and to do so a long way in advance of applying for your next career move. This will enable you to tailor your skillset by choosing the key skills that ensure that your CV sings to the tune of each and every role you are after.
What are transferable skills or competencies?
Here is what Indeed had to say….
‘Transferable skills are a core set of skills and abilities, which can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries. They’re usually picked up over time, and can be gained from previous positions, charity or voluntary work, your hobbies, or even just at home’.
Transferable skills tend to be soft skills, rather than those technical skills which are specifically job related. They are, however, arguably more employable because an employer can train those position specific skills; transferable skills often relate to people skills and those leadership traits picked up over time. They might show that you’d be a good fit for the team and what else you can bring to a role, such as communication and teamwork which transcend technical competencies.
Using the STAR format to explain skills
The STAR format is an acronym to help you remember to add all the relevant parts of a well explained example.
- Situation: What was the specific challenge or context?
- Task: What did you specifically have to achieve?
- Action: What actions did you personally take to address it?
- Result: What was the result of your action? What was the outcome of benefit?
One of the problems my clients often experience when trying to do this is finding the right language. A thesaurus is useful, but finding an HR dictionary is even more helpful. It helps to use the words that a professional recruiter might use as many companies, even when employing technical specialists in a certain field, will have an easily understood lexicon of skills. Why is this so? Because most professional recruiters and HR teams are not technical specialists, and the same transferable skillsets are applicable across the whole company in a multitude of roles.
Usefully, the UK Government has a widely available published dictionary of skills, behaviours and competencies which apply to all Civil Service roles – called Success Profiles. It’s one of the best free to access tools, so check it out. It’s also worth checking if the company to which you’re appling has a ‘competency framework’ or publishes their leadership skills. This way, you can tailor your STAR examples to match the company language and sound even more like the ideal candidate!
Transferable Skills Examples
Here are some examples of how a vet might explain some of their clinical skills in a transferable way, that a non-clinical employer might appreciate.
What skills are part of a busy day in the operating theatre? Clearly there will be surgical skills, but what are the transferable skills? Can you handle a busy ops day and come out smiling? I’ve labelled the STAR elements to help.
Worked with a nursing team to set up for busy ops day becomes;
- Worked with key team members (S) to prioritise daily workflow (T) by chairing team meeting (A), creating visual work plan (A), scheduling and delegating responsibilities (A) to ensure that all work was completed on time (R) with minimum disruption and high levels of safety (R).
Covid-19 has significantly affected how face to face services like veterinary, dental and medical services are delivered. How have you adapted and implemented some of the necessary changes to keep everyone Covid secure? Discharging patients and giving post-op instructions under Covid restrictions could become;
- Engaged with customers (S) to ensure specific post-op instructions and medications were communicated appropriately (T) by using innovative remote consultation platform (A) to generate rapport (A), listen to customer concerns (A), provide reassurance (A) and written documents (A) to ensure effective transfer of information (R) with high levels of compliance (R) and received excellent feedback on communication skills (R).
I often see ‘communication skills’ used as a descriptor. It’s a top level skill though, so how do you break it down further and explain specific skills in a transferable way?
Can you handle a challenging case, where you’ve delivered a grave prognosis? Could it be;
- When managing clinical cases (S), analysed all available data (A) to enable customer decision making (T) and where needed delivered difficult news to customers (T) sensitively and with empathy (A) to deliver an appropriate outcome (R).
Have you ever contributed to the practice newsletter or written any client handouts? That’s really transferable;
- Increased brand awareness (S) and published a monthly client newsletter (T) by gathering materials (A), writing content (A), seeking colleague feedback (A) using Mailchimp (A) and increased product sales by 10% in the month (R).
Transferable skills should be part of your CV, Linkedin profile and be in your mind when attending networking events. If you need help working out what your skillset is and how it becomes transferable, here are three great options
- Book a free, personal coaching exploration with me
- Explore the Emerge Career Accelerator – a self-paced, online course that will teach you how to craft your CV, employ transferable skills and much more including interview preparation too.
- If you’re a vet and in need of career inspiration, visit VSGD Careers – a unique community of job seekers and advertising opportunities
Or just get in touch to see how I can help; I’d love to talk.