Feel like you’ve achieved all you can in your current industry? Wondering if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence? Thinking about pursuing a career goal you’ve constantly been putting off?

These aren’t uncommon thoughts for successful senior executives and in fact, people in general. It’s wired in to us to want more from our lives, to try new things and I’d bet that most of you got where you are today by challenging yourselves and by breaking new ground.

But recently, I’ve noticed many conversations on LinkedIn regarding the subject of transferable skills and barriers preventing a career move to a new industry. The feeling amongst senior executive candidates is that transferable skills are no longer valued by employers, recruiters or headhunters and as a result, it’s almost impossible to break into a new industry.

Of course, it is possible -I’ve seen senior executives achieve roles outside of their usual sector very recently- but I understand it’s very hard to believe this when you’re faced with rejection. So, I want to share with you another view on transferable skills: the Headhunter’s view.

We asked our friends at Executive Headhunters what advice they offer candidates who are looking to move to a new industry…

“It’s no secret that employers tend to favour candidates who have relevant industry experience. However, today’s employer is becoming more partial to shaking things up as they recognise the benefits of wider experience and an outside view as they strive for competitive advantages.

Ultimately it comes down to what the employer needs from the role.”

In what situations do you place candidates with transferable skills?

Client wants to sell into a new market so requires a candidate who has worked in that market.
Client wants a candidate who can facilitate opening up a new vertical.
Client has a unique culture for their market and requires a candidate who shares the same values to lead a team.
Client requires a highly organised, proven leader to manage a dynamic team.
Client needs a candidate to manage a number of accounts or supplier relationships.

Which transferable traits often lead to successful placements?

Advantageous knowledge of a different industry.
Ability to sell in to other industries.
Strong leadership qualities.
Good communication.
Research, planning and implementation abilities.
Interaction and liaison skills.
Similar culture and beliefs.

How can candidates sell themselves to employers in other industries?

Research favourable traits for your desired role(s)

This could be as easy as looking up a few job descriptions or checking out people who currently work in the role on LinkedIn and seeing what they promote as their key skills.

Identify and prove your skills

This sounds obvious but it’s easy to say you’re good a communicator, most people would say the exactly this, but how do you prove it? Use real examples of how you’ve used your communication skills to an organisation’s advantage.

Test the water – network and speak to people in the industry you are looking to move in to

Start climbing the ladder early and build a network of people who may help you now or end up being the source of an opportunity in the future.

Create a skills CV and bespoke applications that focus on how the skills you have will benefit the employer

There isn’t any point providing a list of irrelevant experiences to an employer – you won’t make it much further than the bin. Emphasise the relevant skills you have and illustrate how these skills will allow you to succeed in real-life scenarios.

Speak to a whole-of-market or generalist headhunter

Although headhunters don’t actively find roles for candidates (they find candidates for specific roles) they will be the people who are most likely to come across roles where transferrable skills are suitable. These kinds of headhunters sell themselves to clients as being able to fill roles with candidates from different industries so you’ll certainly be in the right ball park.

This is great advice from Executive Headhunters. Their whole approach is based on hiring people for roles from different sectors so it’s really helpful to get their take on transferable skills. Of course, there’s further discussions to be had around transferable skills and the senior level jobs market, so if you’re trying to move into a new industry and want to talk things through, I invite you to book a complimentary career strategy call and you’ll receive some concrete, actionable tips to help you move forwards more quickly.

This post appeared first on Executive Connexions Ltd.

About Steve Nicholls

As a career development coach with over 18 years of career coaching experience, Steve specialises in helping talented senior executives and managers to achieve their full potential and forge meaningful careers. He has built a highly credible reputation as the ‘go to’ career management specialist for professionals worldwide.

Steve is a member of the Career Development Institute, and holds the Post Graduate Diploma in Career Guidance. He uses a focused coaching approach with appropriate challenging that leads to improved motivation, satisfaction and happiness. Aligning personal career satisfaction with life aspects is a balance which Steve appreciates, and he adopts a straightforward, transparent and direct approach.

Steve believes in a collaborative, motivational style of career guidance support and communication. He draws on his diverse professional experience within business, gained across a number of sectors including corporate, public and third sector environments and consultancies.


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