Why You’re NOT Starting from Scratch…
Changes in the work world because of a global pandemic, are prompting many Generation X women to pause and reflect on their current career. Maybe like so many, you’ve experienced furloughs, layoffs or even downsizing. The competition for a fewer number of jobs is tough.
Why would you even think about changing careers right now?
Isn’t that too risky?
But you’ve been mulling it over in your mind. Recognizing what you used to do, just doesn’t cut it anymore. You’re no longer passionate about your daily responsibilities. Maybe you feel disenfranchised or the work is meaningless. Perhaps quarantine lifted the veil on the values and ethics of the company you work for, and it wasn’t pretty.
If you’ve been thinking about shifting into a completely new field, it’s normal to have doubts. You’ve spent so much time building skills and expertise. You already know how to anticipate what’s coming, you have answers when questions arise. It’s like second nature.
Starting over, while exciting, also makes you feel like a beginner. You don’t know the industry lingo. You have little to no expertise in this new area that piques your interest. Essentially, you don’t know, what you don’t know.
What if I told you, launching into a new career field does not mean you’re starting from scratch?
That, as a Generation X woman, you already have many of the skills needed to make this transition?
Transferrable Skills vs. Industry Specific Skills
In any field, there are two important skillsets. First, there’s industry-specific knowledge. This can be gained by taking courses, reading books, mentoring under someone experienced and on-the-job-training. To work in a medical position, you must have the requisite training. Same for legal, tech, creative, environmental, consulting, entrepreneurship or almost any other field. You really can’t skip this part. People’s lives, safety and livelihoods depend upon your expertise.
However, at least half of every job involves transferrable skills. These are things you naturally pick up along the way. Chances are, if you think back to your very first job as a teenager or young adult, the transferable skills you learned back then, are used in your current position. If in the past, you switched jobs or even industries, you carried this toolkit with you.
Employers value these transferrable skills just as much as they do field-specific knowledge. And you can format your resume and prepare interview talking points to highlight these strengths. Let’s talk about some of the most important transferrable skills:
Improving your skills doesn’t end at college, adults are now expected to seek out opportunities to better themselves personally and professionally. Did you take an online course or read the latest book for the industry you want to go into? Highlight it on your resume.
Excellent communication is the cornerstone of any career. Your ability to articulate verbally and in writing can make a sale or neutralize a problem before it arises. Give concrete examples of times when you used communication skills to the benefit of your employer. Role model excellent communication by checking that your resume contains proper grammar, follow up quickly on every email and answer your phone professionally. Your potential employer is watching.
Solve Conflicts Respectfully and Productively
It’s not a matter if conflict will arise, but when. As they say, we all have disagreements, but we don’t have to be disagreeable. Research non-violent communication and practice healthy communication skills to keep your cool in heated situations. Talk about a specific example where you mediated and found common ground. As a Generation X woman, you are most likely the care taker of your children and/or your parents and you can also leverage your personal learnings and experience to resolving conflict at work.
Effective Teamwork with Colleagues, Partners, and Vendors
Ah, group projects. Some of us love them, some of us hate them. But honestly, we don’t work in a vacuum. Your ability to collaborate with others is one of the most essential job skills an employer is looking for. Be sure to clarify on your resume or portfolio, your exact role in the success of a project and don’t take credit for something you didn’t do.
Managing a Budget for a Department or an Organization
Whether you decide to work for someone else (or for yourself), understanding how to manage cash flow and expenses makes the difference between business success or mismanagement. If somewhere in the past, you were responsible for managing a budget of any size, be sure to share what you learned.
Developing an Effective Proposal
No, I’m not just talking about PowerPoint, although that’s probably the most common proposal format. A good proposal begins by describing a problem or obstacle and goes on to outline concrete steps to a solution. Upload one of your best proposals and let this transferrable skill shine.
Giving Spoken Presentations or Trainings
Some people love to speak, while for others it brings up a swarm of butterflies in the stomach. However, if you’ve ever had the opportunity in your job history to give a speech or train others, this is a solid skill to highlight. The good news is you can improve your public speaking acumen, both introverts and extroverts can be effective speakers with practice.
In the 21st century, data rules. Those who know how to find the right information at the right time, are an asset. Give an example of how the research you conducted influenced the trajectory of a project or the company you worked for.
Innovation and Creativity
During our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, workers were often expected to follow procedures and do as they were told. Generation X women came into adulthood at a time when companies began to expect and reward innovation and creativity. Whether you’ve worked on developing new products or services or simply gave valuable feedback to your supervisor that changed the customer experience, own your creative spark.
Social Media Skills
Where is every potential customer? On social media, of course. Your savvy about any social media platform, although 95% of Generation X women are on Facebook, is a boon to a potential employer. Provide links, if appropriate and highlight how you grew engagement and leads.
Proficiency with Technology
While it’s true each software package is different, your ability to apply what you’ve learned to quickly pick up the nuances of a new software package is golden. Ask great questions about the features of the new company’s technology, research and use appropriate tech lingo to demonstrate your savvy.
Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
Business used to be strictly business – employees were expected to clock in and leave their personal stuff at the door. More than ever before, companies are recognizing that human beings have lives, go through difficult personal situations, and imagine this – are not robots. #Empathy and #Emotionalintelligence are two of the top trending keywords on LinkedIn. Especially if you’re applying for a supervisory role, it’s crucial you share how you’ve connected on a deeper level with colleagues and direct reports.
Respect for Diversity, Commitment to Equitable Workplaces
In 2020, diversity and equity once again came to the forefront. There were many confrontations as we collectively struggled to address wounding that occurred over hundreds of years. Diversity and equity are not a ‘buzzword’ in the workplace, we must walk the talk. We must have uncomfortable conversations; and sometimes we’ll say or do the wrong things, at which point we need to apologize and make it right. You can role-model what it means to truly honor diverse lived experiences. Be a compassionate listener, open your heart and your mind.
I hope this list helped you to notice valuable transferrable skills you picked up along the way. Even during such an uncertain time, it’s entirely possible for Generation X women to shift into a new field or launch the business you’ve been dreaming of. Sometimes, challenging times are the catalyst you need to make a change.
Remember, everything you’ve experienced has prepared you to be right here, right now.
You’ve got this!