As an executive recruiter, what I often see holding people back -- even senior executives -- is the inability to recognize and put to use their transferable skills. I am often asked: "But how do I honestly recognize what I have and harness these transferable skills into a better job?"
There are countless examples of sports and entertainment stars developing transferable skills and changing or broadening their careers. People such as basketball great turned successful businessman Magic Johnson; former California Governor and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger who began his career in body-building; and Jay-Z, one of the most financially successful hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs in America, whose ventures have included owning record labels, clothing lines, a piece of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, night clubs, and now a sports agency.
Following in the footsteps of hip hop artists like mentor Jay-Z who transcended music, Drake was recently announced as the new "global ambassador" for the Toronto Raptors. In this role, he will help re-brand the team and redesign its image and clothing line. In doing this, Drake showed loyalty to his hometown NBA team. He also took a critical step in building his personal brand. This was a terrific move to add breadth to his career and leave open a path for a post-music career.
While he is still young, still has much to prove, and naturally more room to mature, I predict Drake will use his skills to do whatever he wants in life and business.
Transferable skills and traits are learned and honed on the job, in the home, socializing, in community volunteer work and many other places. Corporations stress employees have these far more often than employees realize. Included in the list of key transferable skills and traits employers look for are: leadership, communication skills, problem-solving, drive and doggedness, time-management, ability to multitask, creativity and teamwork.
Drake has learned and honed many of these qualities. He stayed the course and succeeded despite challenging times in his childhood and teenage years. He is a strong communicator. He is creative and knows how to multi-task and work hard. He also demonstrates team play through his ability to collaborate with a myriad of artists. It remains to be seen whether Drake is a potential future leader of a business, like a number of his counterparts who he looks up to, but it will be interesting to see.
In the meantime, the Toronto Raptors are fortunate to have a person with the level of creativity, not to mention the level of credibility with NBA players as Drake. This can only help in terms of image and ability to recruit and retain desired players.
My point is not that we can all be great athletes or artists, but rather all of us have transferable experience, skills and traits and too often lack the understanding of how to turn them to our advantage. For those who can, the rewards are great.
A financial services firm hired us a while back to find them a senior marketing professional. We uncovered a terrific candidate who had virtually no financial services experience. He did however have great marketing skills we felt could transfer really well for the job at hand. In fact we felt bringing new thinking to the table from a different sector was potentially more significant than if our client hired from a competitor. All indications are that our client and we made the right choice.
Look for links between industries and job functions and test to see if you have skills that can be transferred. For example, someone from a technology company with a lot of mergers and acquisition experience could be a valuable commodity in a different sector. Or an engineer with good communications skills could be a great salesperson in his or her industry after packaging product knowledge and people skills.
When defining your transferable skills, ask yourself these questions, and be honest:
- Do you like new challenges often or prefer steady building?
- Do you communicate effectively; either one-on-one, in meetings, on the phone or via e-mail?
- Do you work well in a group or prefer to work alone?
- Do you manage your time well or find yourself always wondering what happened to the day?
- Can you juggle two or more tasks at a time or do you prefer just one?
In this environment of corporate change and workplace evolution, there is no reason to feel pigeon-holed. Let your transferable skills and traits open doors.