How to use transferable skills to transition into tech 👩🏻‍💻

You decided to seek a job in the tech space… now what? The first place to start in your transition is to understand your transferable skills.

Whether you come from medicine, fashion, construction, teaching or another industry, there are skills that can be carried over into a job in tech. The key is to understand:

  1. What is a transferrable skill
  2. How to recognize transferrable skills
  3. How to communicate your transferrable skills during job interviews

What is a transferrable skill

A transferable skill is any skill that you can ‘transfer’ over into any job. Skills that are usually described a ‘soft skills’ like communication are transferable. Basically any skill that you can be used cross-industry are transferrable skills. What does that look like in real life?

Any skill where you are communicating, analyzing or organizing people or data is a transferable skill.

Let’s say you are a Dental Assistant, whose main role is cleaning teeth. Yet you also have skills that are important to the role, such as communicating with the patient, putting them at ease during the process. You are also responsible for time management and maybe managing feedback from patients. So even if your main job is to clean teeth you also:

  • communicate with patients by setting expectations on treatment, timing and overall experience
  • manage feedback from patients
  • create a process to manage your work efficiently to handle multiple patients per day

As you can see, there’s a variety of skills that can be carried outside the dental office and into a job at a tech company.

How to recognize transferrable skills

Recognizing transferrable skills involves two main tasks:

  1. learning the language of ‘tech’
  2. connecting the dots between your skills & the requirements in a job posting

What does this look like in real life?

Let’s say you are a former Teacher and are applying for roles in Customer Success. The language of tech talks about ‘customers’ and ‘clients’, while in teaching you are used to talking about ‘students’. A job in Customer Success is all about communicating and setting expectations, while a Teacher is also doing just those things, but in a different context.

First, start by listing out the current skills and duties at your current role. That can look like:

  • Creating lesson plans
  • Explaining new concepts to students
  • Supporting students in learning new information
  • Meet with parents to set expectations and provide constructive recommendations on supporting the student

Then break down a Customer Success job description into parts that can be connected to your current skills. Some of those are:

  • Setting customers expectations
  • Responding to customer requests
  • Breaking down complex topics into understandable lessons

As you review the list, you can start to see the connections between your current skills and skills required for the Customer Success job. It becomes easier to note how ‘students’ can be ‘clients’, helping you understand that you already posses many of the skills needed for the Customer Success job.

How to communicate your transferrable skills during job interviews

Communicating transferable skills involves bridging the gap when connecting your transferrable skills to the questions discussed in the job interview.

This looks like:

  • Using relevant stories from your previous professional experience to answer behavioral interview questions
  • Creating a narrative around your learning experiences in bootcamps/courses/college to relate to interview questions (Why did you transition from teaching into development/UX/customer service?)
  • Using language that helps connects the dots (ex. renaming ‘ the principal’ to conversations with ‘peers’ or ‘stakeholders’)

Still wondering how to connect your skills from other jobs into a job in tech?

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