How Transferable Skills Can Bridge the Gap to a New Career

bridging the gap

Changing careers can be tricky. How are you supposed to convince someone that you’d make an amazing UX designer when you’ve been an account manager at an advertising agency for 6 years? With a background in teaching, how to make a career change to sales?

The key to a successful career transition is in identifying and leveraging your transferable skills. The competencies you developed in your current profession are not only applicable there– they can be relevant and meaningful to many employment opportunities.The key to a successful #careerchange is leveraging your #transferable skills, says @dacunhac Click To Tweet

Reflect on your background and experiences to identify the skills that you already have, and how you can reframe them for a new opportunity. Not sure how? Here’s our cheat sheet to show how a transferable skills list from one job can be reframed for the most in-demand roles at startup and scaleup companies.

Account Manager

Professional skills:

  • Strong interpersonal skills; empathetic, and expert communicator
  • Solving complex problems with apt insights and judgement
  • Solid organizational, time-management, and multitasking abilities

How they transfer:

It’s obvious that account management and sales are closely related functions and the skills developed in one role are easily transferable to the other. A less-obvious transition would be to UX/UI design. As an account manager, you’re always on the front-lines. You and your team are usually the first people in a company to hear about what product features are needed or need to be improved. Your acute awareness of customer experience will allow you to create intuitive, easy-to-use products with some background, training, and mentorship in design.


Professional skills:

  • Designing and differentiating instruction to manage the needs of large and diverse groups
  • Inspiring engagement with course material by finding creative ways to make it relevant and relatable
  • Using data to inform continued planning and optimize learning

How they transfer:

If you’re making a career change from teaching, marketing may be a great choice for you. You’re well-versed in thinking up new and imaginative ways to capture your students’ attention, and you know that the same strategies aren’t going to work for all of the learners in your classroom. Your talent for targeting different audiences with the messaging that’s most relevant to each one– and using data to inform these choices– will make you a skilled marketer. Your ability to manage relationships, communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner, and make your students psyched to learn would make you an excellent salesperson, as well.


Professional skills:

  • Understanding the art of persuasion in both written and spoken form
  • Researching legal concepts, statutes, regulations, and other important information
  • Aggregating and analyzing data to find creative solutions

How they transfer:

Your ability to draw insights from large amounts of data and persuasively articulate a point of view can make you an excellent marketer, but also an adept engineer. Your expert research skills will help you to tackle complicated problems. Finding creative workarounds to achieve the desired results, you’ve shown the same level of perseverance and resourcefulness key to debugging code.


Professional skills:

  • Understanding and interpreting large amounts of data
  • Establishing, implementing, and ensuring adherence to regulations and procedures
  • Clearly communicating intricate information in layman’s terms

How they transfer:

Accountants are accustomed to dealing with large amounts of complex financial data. Their abilities to identify discrepancies when balancing the books demonstrates sharp attention to detail. In fact, they probably already know some of the basics of programming, given how frequently they write formulas in Excel, making web development a natural transition.


Professional skills:

  • Managing people and priorities under intense pressure
  • Articulating/ responding to orders or opinions concisely and with clarity
  • Finding resourceful and innovative solutions to difficult problems

How they transfer:

A military background lends toward excellent product management skills. You’re able to set clear expectations, balance multiple priorities, and oversee the production of deliverables under pressure. Similarly, your communication skills and ability to tend to both relationships and deadlines under fire makes your military background surprisingly relevant to sales. Great salespeople are incredibly resourceful– uncovering and nurturing prospects that others can’t, remaining calm and responsive to client needs under strict timing and quotas.


Professional skills:

  • Producing clear and concise copy that’s effective in persuading people to give
  • Researching to better understand potential donor audiences
  • Managing relationships to encourage long-term commitments

How they transfer:

As a fundraiser, you have the ability to understand and relate to your donor base. Your expertise in crafting messages that inspire action will prepare you for a smooth transition into marketing or UI/UX design. Identifying and appealing to the needs of your market through targeted campaigns or engaging digital experiences, both roles require a deep empathy for  consumer pain points and the ability to tell a story that speaks to these.

As a job seeker looking for a career change, how you tell your story to prospective employers and networking connections will make all the difference in the world. You need to be able to highlight examples of transferable skills and clearly articulate on your resume and during the interview how these will enable you a seamless transition (relatively speaking, of course– even learning where the bathrooms are on day one may make for an adventure). By focusing your story on the skills that you can reframe and by letting your culture skills shine, you can set yourself up for a successful career change.How you tell your story as a #careerchanger will make all the difference, says @dacunhac Click To Tweet

Photo credit: Alex Zappa via Flickr cc

Are you ready to make the switch to a career you love in a high-growth company? Download our free Guide to Career Change for tips and tricks on making the switch.

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Caroline manages Performance Marketing at Startup Institute.

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