Miyagi taught Daniel the Secret of Transferable Skills One of the most difficult, yet most valuable discoveries one can make on a job search is figuring out how to apply their transferable skills to a new opportunity. This particular ability is especially helpful for people wanting to make a career change or those looking to enter the job market for the first time.

A transferable skill is any ability--whether it is a natural talent or acquired skill nurtured through employment, schooling, etc.--that can be used in multiple situations. A perfect example would be the wax on, wax off technique taught to Daniel-San in the 1980's movie The Karate Kid.

Throughout his training, Mr. Miyagi had Daniel performing all sorts of tasks, that to the untrained eye appeared to be focused more on the janitorial arts as opposed to martial arts. Yet when Daniel left the Karate Championship with trophy in hand, it was very clear that waxing a car, sanding a floor, and painting a fence had other uses beyond what can be seen on the surface. That's the power of understanding transferable skills.

As an empowered job seeker, it is up to you to look at the talents and skills you have developed over the years and determine where they can be used most effectively. Undoubtedly, you are going to come across positions where you can employ your transferable skills. However, unless you figure out how to draw attention to those skills, you will likely be passed over by an employer for other candidates whose acronyms match the job description.

Therefore, if you are serious about leveraging your transferable skills in your job search, you are going to have make an investment in marketing them--whether it is with time or money. Here are a few tips on how you can do that:
  1. Hire a professional resume writer. When your career path matches the logical progression of a job description connecting the dots is easy. But if you are trying to get from point A to point B via point D with a short layover in Z then you are going to have to paint a picture that a hiring manager can see.
  2. Build relationships with recruiters. Every star has an agent. That should tell you something. But not every person with an agent is working. That should tell you something else. With the obvious exception of having talent for them to market, the relationship you have with good recruiters can make the difference between getting your foot in the door and having it slammed in your face. Plus, their wide array of knowledge about the job market will help them to better see how your skills can be transferred.
  3. Spend time on your online profiles.By building a complete online profile, you are giving employers the opportunity to see you multi-dimensionally. Sites like Linkedin allow you to attach blog posting, slide presentations, and book lists so that visitors can get a clearer sense of who you are and what you have to offer an organization.
  4. Volunteer to work on projects. You know you can do the work. You just need your chance to prove it. Well, you can always do it for free. This way everybody wins. You get the experience and the person or organization that you volunteer for gets a product or service that they are in need of for a price that they can afford. Everyone wins.
These are just a few ways that you can discover, apply, and market your transferable skills. Just remember that any action that you have mastered can be repurposed or reapplied to meet other needs. Your task is to figure out how. Good luck.

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