The Magic of Transferrable Skills

Regardless of your current industry, there's many things you already bring to the table. Now let's put it to practice! ✅

Nadine Okoeguale
January 27, 2021

So fans of football/soccer are very familiar with the concept of “the transfer.” But why’s that important here? I'm drawing your mind to this: When one player leaves one club to another, the player takes along from their former club all the nurtured skills and knowledge that will help them to perform excellently in their new club. 

As a professional looking to transition into tech, you should think of yourself as a player too. You’re not starting from scratch. You already have experience. They just might be from a different industry - retail, sales, marketing, or even earth science, like Helen’s background!

There will be technical skills that you will have to work hard to learn and acquire but there are some non-technical skills (aka soft skills) that you already have. Now it’s about taking these skills with you from your former career to your new career in tech to get you closer to achieving the excellence that you desire. 

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Our Co.Laborators have been hard at work for the past few weeks! Come hear from Product Managers, Designers and Developers on how their first time working within a real product team went, and see their shipped products in action!

Creative problem solving 🛠

At the end of 2019, LinkedIn analyzed data from its network of over 660+ million professionals and 20+ million jobs to reveal the most in-demand soft skills. Right at the top of the list for the second year in a row is what you might have guessed: creativity

In tech, there’s no singular blueprint to follow. Gone are the days when solving a problem at work requires you to open up a manual and simply follow the steps. Sure, the work might be done and the problem solved but because it lacks the creative detail, another person could solve the same problem better and faster just by being creative and trying something new. You have to open yourself up to innovation and learning to improve your creativity.

One way to do this is just to routinely ask yourself: “Is there a better way to get this done?” “What can I improve with this approach?” “Is this the most effective solution?”  

Here are some non-creative approaches to avoid when problem solving:

Table with text of examples of non-creative approaches. such as midnlessly defending the status quo.
Creative Approaches to Problem Solving: A Framework for Innovation and Change by Scott G. Isaksen, K. Brian Dorval, Donald J. Treffinger, page 22.

Use the above like a check-list.

Whenever you find yourself thinking “This is just the way things are done!”, consider how it would be if you didn’t do it that way. Why is that the way things are done? Is there room to innovate?

A few weeks ago, Elon Musk tweeted out an engineering opportunity to his followers. The one detail he emphasized in addition to the resume? Examples of creative problem solving. 

Elon Musk: Tell us how you solved a problem

Collaborating with others effectively 👥

It’s fine working alone. You can still get things done. But it’s far smarter, far quicker, and far more effective to work with others towards a common goal.  

There’s one thing that’s universal about the tech space: you will collaborate. Ajit, Senior TPM at Amazon (and a Co.Lab Mentor) explains in this interview how your Amazon package gets delivered to your doorstep. Imagine the number of people across different technical fields that are involved in the process. If they weren’t all working effectively together, the process would not be so seamless. There’s truly no disadvantage to collaborating with people in a team. 

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. - Andrew Carnegie

One of our core principles at Co.Lab is this aspect of collaboration. It’s also what hiring managers look out for when recruiting. How do you work with others? How will you work with them as a company?

There are loads of benefits to collaborating with others rather than working in isolation. Many are highlighted in a previous blog post by Sefunmi on how to kickstart your tech career in 2021, so go take a read!

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Speaking and listening clearly 🗣

Communication, communication, communication. Clarity when speaking, writing and listening is essential to success in any work environment — including a tech work environment.

There are three common words in almost every job listing: good communication skills. Where it’s not mentioned, it is still expected, just unspoken. Companies want individuals who can effectively communicate concepts to customers and colleagues.

A product manager, for example, when interfacing with customers for research or feedback, has to be precise when asking questions, be clear when receiving the responses, and be unambiguous when relaying ideas to other members of the team. 

The most important thing is that even if you’re coming from a non-traditional background, you need frame your skills in such a way benefits the role or company you’re going into.

Good communication helps achieve business goals, creates a positive work environment, prevents conflict and increases innovation among colleagues.

Do you think your communication skills need a bit of work? Start off by watching this amazing video. 

Not only will improving and highlighting your communication skills help you in your job hunt and in the workplace, it’ll be a benefit for your personal relationships as well!

Go forth and apply!

With these soft skills in your arsenal, you’re well into your transition to tech. Now it’s about properly conveying it in your resume, application and interviews. Any interest in learning more about that? Maybe we’ll write about it an upcoming week!

Oh, and for those technical skills I mentioned earlier, here are some tips and advice on what hiring managers are looking for.

Which transferable skills are you most successful in practicing and which do you need to put more effort in? What other skills will you add to the list?

Let us know by tagging us on LinkedIn or Twitter, and we’ll highlight your answer on our socials!

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