If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing it is that, no job is secure. The resilient however, refused to succumb, and have bounced right back with out of the box solutions – including a radical career shift – moving out of their comfort zone and industry into new and unexplored areas – even entrepreneurship.
How did they accomplish this? Here’s the secret – by leveraging their transferable skills – so why not acquire them as soon as you exit the campus – or even before that?
What are Transferable Skills?
As you exit your industry of choice or your college campus for the last time and prepare to enter a new arena – the corporate world or a new industry, – you will hear the term “transferable skills” thrown around frequently along with “campus to corporate”, “job-ready”, “employable”, and a few more. These terms signify the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience – but don’t let that deter you.
Transferable skills are a set of skills that are important for every employee no matter what job he holds or which industry he works in. The skills are transferable and adaptable to virtually any work environment, workplace, or role. These are skills that you acquire as you gain experience in your area of expertise and often feature partially in the syllabi of vocational courses as well as many postgraduate programs.
You can acquire transferable skills through specialized courses developed for the explicit purpose of preparing a fresher to enter the world of employment – and even entrepreneurship.
As a fresh graduate having the right employable skills is important for raising your employability quotient but transferable skills are also important throughout your career as you job-hop or – God forbid – are laid off, and have to look for a new job in a new and unexplored industry.
The most important Skills
As far as skills for resume go, there is no comprehensive or compartmentalized list. However, we have culled the most important soft skills for you here – and if you want to learn any of them, you can explore skill development courses here.
While we’re not really ranking the skills, some may put creativity at the bottom of the list simply because it is either inborn or comes with time. Rank notwithstanding, creativity can be cultivated. As you work at various jobs and tasks, you will give rein to your imagination and come up with new suggestions and ideas for your boss, team, and colleagues. Creativity works within the framework of your role and the attending challenges. It involves sub-skills such as pattern recognition and ideation – but these alone will not suffice. Your ideas must produce measureable results that are of value to your organization if you want to be recognized as creative. It involves constant observation and thinking coupled with ability to “view things differently” or what is today known as “think out of the box.”
Strategy is any action or decision taken to achieve a defined goal. Ask any fifth grader and he will tell you many strategies to avoid school. Business strategy is naturally far more complex; but a strategic mindset – up to a point – can help you better understand your role and task – and how they fit into the larger scheme of things. A strategic mind-set is also of particular use in certain areas of business such as marketing. Strategy can help you identify the why of whatever you may be doing – your goal – and knowing that can help you perform better. Moreover, if you have the skill to understand business strategy – it’s not rocket science and can be learned – it would help you throughout your career path – even when you diversify into other roles, organizations, and industries.
Do you naturally invoke trust? Do you have the capability to cut to the core and take charge? Are you able to motivate others? These are just some capabilities that a good leader possesses. As a team lead, VP, or CXO, the top managers depend upon your competence while your subordinates have faith that you will do well by them and give credit where due. A good leader should also be capable of coaching his subordinates, thinking on his feet and making spot decisions. These skills will stand you in good stead in all walks of life – not just at your workplace. So, as a fresh graduate, signing up for a leadership course is a definite plus.
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
Another skill worth possessing is the ability for critical thinking and problem solving. This will help you through brainstorming and ideation meetings with your team. If you possess the capability to bring any situation to its logical conclusion quickly and in the shortest manner possible, it will endear you to your seniors and help you climb the corporate ladder. Apart from this though, if you ever decide to venture into entrepreneurship, these skills will help you cut to the core of all your business challenges.
Another important yet simple skill to have is effective time management. Mind that the operative word here is effective. Everyone manages time and juggles tasks, but getting more done in less time is an art that few possess. Multitasking is one way to manage time efficiently – ask any home maker. Remember though that time management goes hand in hand with good organization. The cycle of Plan >> Implement >> Review >> Plan works only when you have a good plan to begin with.
From the world of sports to the executive boardroom – team spirit is what gets things done. The ability to collaborate with your peers is an integral part of any workforce. After all every organization wants their employees to work collectively towards the corporate goals – and this is possible only when you are able and willing to share credit, limelight, and awards in addition to workload, responsibilities, and your lunch box.
This one is no secret. Effective communication is an art acquired with experience. Depending on where you are coming from and whom you are dealing with, you may require empathy, persuasiveness, patience, humility, and many more skills in order to communicate effectively. A salesperson for instance, is persuasive whereas a team leader may need a blend of empathy and authority. Camaraderie works best with peers while humility is the order of the day when dealing with brass.
Yet another life skill that is good to have both in your personal as well as professional life. It has to do with taking pride in what you do – remember to differentiate it from ego and vanity though. It defines the difference between want to do and need to do. Apart from sheer honesty, ethics also involves certain integrity of character that is ingrained into the mind. It also means that you are ready and willing to take responsibility for your actions – ergo you will never do anything that you cannot take full responsibility for. At work, this translates to taking full responsibility for work assigned to you and going the extra mile.
Listening is more than just hearing the words spoken. It means the ability to fully comprehend what is being said – and recognize what is unsaid. Good listening skills can mean the difference between efficiency and inefficiency. Listening is the ability to interpret correctly what your employer – or boss – says to you, and deliver value rather than mere content. As an employee, it could mean going the extra mile and doing more than your share of work. As an entrepreneur, it may translate to differentiating your business or defining your USP. As a supervisor, team lead, or CXO it means listening to your subordinates, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, and empathizing with them.
As you go about your duties at workplace, you will frequently need to jot down important points; – after all, there is only so much you can commit to memory and considering you will be bombarded with instructions throughout the day, you will definitely need your notes. So cultivating a habit of keeping a small notebook and pen in your pocket is a useful tip; but that’s not the end of the road. You should be able to quickly note down what is being said – often unobtrusively and quickly – and decipher it later. One way to do this is to develop your own short forms for frequently used words – for instance between (b/w). This art will stand you in good stead no matter where you are – and especially if you have to attend conferences and meetings frequently. Of course, given technological advancement and the ability to record almost everything this is a waning art but useful nonetheless.
Other Useful Skills
Apart from these soft skills, basic knowledge about the computer, MS-Office (or Open Office) and emerging technologies is always useful. It is also advisable to be aware of the industry you work in – or are likely to enter. This makes communicating with your seniors, peers, and juniors easier and gives you an edge over the competition. Another useful skill to have or develop is data analysis. Given a set of data, you should be able to sort it and break it up in the proper context. For instance, in e-commerce you might need to dig through a data dump on consumer behavior. On the other hand, if you are working in HR, leave patterns, complaints, and so on will be the data you would deal with.
The takeaway here is simply this; no matter which industry or organization you enter or migrate to, you should carry with you certain basic skills that will portray you as an asset to the organization.
Ready to enroll? Take your pick here.
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