Selling Your Skills the Right Way

Identify the skills in your desired career
You probably already know that there’s plenty of homework involved in getting a job or advancing in your career. Still, you’ve likely also figured out that anything worth obtaining is worth the effort. That new field may require more schooling, and so your search may also involve some online education. One of the keys to unlocking those doors between you and your next career move is knowing what skills employers are looking for. Fortunately, finding out what these skills are isn’t too difficult as most employers list what those skills are for anyone to see.

Career Clusters
Finding out what skills employers want starts with knowing where to look. One challenge facing someone wanting to change careers is that they may not know all the right questions to ask about a certain field. To overcome that challenge, start with what are known as career clusters, groupings of related careers that share common skills. One of the best sources for identifying these clusters as well as individual occupations is the career site, O*Net OnLine. Spend some time on this site and take good notes. Once you’ve identified your cluster and researched some specific occupations, you’re ready to filter down your information to isolate specific skills.

Job Boards You’ve heard the names of these two major job boards and they make up just a couple of the many online boards with similar free services. Start big by searching for openings in the career you’re seeking and pull up several job descriptions in that field. The most important skills needed for that position are listed under Skills or Requirements. Create a list of the skills for each posting, and then organize those skills in some logical manner.

Transferable Skills
Let’s be clear about what transferable skills are and what they are not. Transferable skills are ALWAYS tied to measurable results. Transferable skills are NOT vague claims without evidence. Strong communications skills are meaningless words if not directly tied to measureable results or outcomes. Great organizational skills, another common listing, are the equivalent of a blind date being describes as having a great personality. For every positive connotation about your skill, there’s a deadly negative waiting to be spotted in the HR department. Here are some examples of how to convey to an employer why your skill is transferable.

EXAMPLE: Receptionist transitioning to financial field
Begin by identifying the career cluster, in this case, Financial. Next, find an occupation that interests you. Let’s say you’d like to find out about the skills needed for Fraud Examiners, Investigators and Analysts. One skill associated with this occupation is Complex Problem Solving. Using a concrete example from your present or past work, define how you have done this and what benefit to the company resulted:

Applied complex problem solving skills to identify potential efficiencies in supply expenses resulting in 18% savings in annual budget.

Pull it through
You’re not alone in your desire to further your career. With the changes in a global economy, standing out to employers and hiring managers is beyond important—it’s necessary. Knowing how to sell your skills can give you that advantage over others competing for the same work.