What managers want: valuable transferable skillsWhatever plans you have for your career, and whatever unexpected turns you might take along the way, there are some skills that almost always come in handy. In fact I’ve gained a new appreciation for transferrable skills since applying to become the Babraham Institute’s equality and diversity manager.
After 10 years in the lab, applying for this role felt pretty scary because so much of the expertise I’d been cultivating over the past decade was no longer relevant. I basically discarded two thirds of my CV, and had to start coming up with examples of how the skills I had would make me a good candidate for a role I had little direct experience in. When you look at it through the right lens though, it’s amazing how many common skills that you pick up along the way are highly desirable and transferable to a whole bunch of different jobs.
If you are looking for your first job or thinking of changing careers or fields, applying for a role you don’t ‘have experience in’ can be daunting so I asked a range of managers (including my own) which transferable or soft skills they always look for and why.
Trevor Smith, Health & Safety Manager
- There are plenty of not-so-obvious skills that are essential for a good scientific H&S professional like the ability to research and seek out information, analyse and consider practical and applicable H&S solutions, and communicate them effectively.
- Passion, integrity and clarity of thought - together with evidence that you can deliver – it doesn’t matter what the subject is that you have delivered on.
- I really value evidence that an applicant has pursued some endeavour, which could be a sport, craft, hobby, anything really, with determination to improve and recover from the inevitable setbacks that everyone suffers when attempting something difficult.
- I look for candidates that have really tried to understand the position being advertised and how their experience and skills match the role, even if that experience is not in a directly comparable role. I myself have changed careers twice, thinking about the skills I have developed, rather than the tasks I have carried out was advantageous to me in applying for work in a new sector.
- I particularly look for experience dealing with difficult situations at work and a clear passion for our work.
- I look for good communication skills in applicants – it’s vital that other people understand what you do, from your colleagues, where meaningful discussions can give you important feedback on your work, to explaining the importance of your research to the public.
Research shows that women especially are hesitant to apply for jobs they don’t have qualifications for, but not necessarily for the reasons you may suspect. If you’re feeling reluctant, take stock of all the other skills you possess outside of PCRs and signalling assays and you’ll find you are also a teacher, presenter, entrepreneur and who knows what else. Then, rewrite your CV and go apply for that job!
10 April, 2019