Are you considering changing career paths? If so, you’re one of many Canadians who are currently thinking about embarking on a major change in your life. It’s understandable to feel some trepidation about making such a big transition. Many people feel that if they have years of experience in one field of work, their skills won’t count for much in a different industry. That’s not true.

In many cases, your skills, education and experience can work to your benefit in a new job. Engineers and software developers, for example, are different jobs that have similarities. It’s the critical thinking skills a candidate possesses that will truly help him/her to make the switch from one of these jobs to the other. That’s why it’s vital to highlight these transferable skills on your resume.

What are transferable skills?

“Transferable skills are a core set of skills and abilities, which can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries,” explains Michael Cheary of reed.co.uk, “They’re usually picked up over time, and can be gained from previous positions, charity or voluntary work, your hobbies, or even just at home.”

He goes on to explain that such attributes are important to employers because they demonstrate how well a candidate is able to fit on a new team. By showing how much you’ve learned from your previous roles, you can overcome that lack of experience in your new field. You can show you’re right for the new role by being a team player and demonstrating a dedication to learning. Examples of transferable skills include leadership, time management, prioritization, delegation, listening and communication.

How can you show employers that you have transferable skills?

Be sure to be truthful. It’s vital you actually have the skills you’re claiming. During your job interview, you should show an understanding of how your skills will be useful in your new role. As well, be able to demonstrate how you would apply your skills in your new industry. According to Caroline Ceniza-Levine on Forbes.com, it would also be wise to provide some tangible proof of your transferable skills.

“Take a class and have some assignments to show,” she recommends, “Volunteer in the new industry or role to have some work samples. Remember that you are trying to close the gap between you and someone who isn’t changing careers and has already done the job. The more you can do that is directly related, the more competitive you will be. Employers have little imagination and will pick tangible experience over promises to learn.”

How helpful are referrals in making your case?

This is somewhat of a trick question. It is unlikely there will ever come a time when a strong recommendation from a reputable source will not be impactful. Ceniza-Levine urges job seekers to speak to their references about highlighting their transferable skills to potential new employers.

“Referrals go a long way in convincing employers to take a chance on a career changer,” she writes, “You need to do exhaustive research into your new industry or role anyway. You should already be talking to people active in the field and you need to win people over. Get people to refer you and share leads with you.”

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