In the world of hiring and recruiting, we hear the words “transferable skills” often. We see articles about them, watch short clips on LinkedIn about them, and even discuss them with our hiring managers. Yet, a candidate with a strong set of “transferable skills” still seems to not rise to the level of a candidate with one job title similar to the open position.
But why is this? Are companies afraid to take the chance on these soft skills? Do they not want to train a new employee and so hiring someone who has already done the job seems easier? When hiring someone, it’s important we shift the mindset to look at talent and skills over titles. Otherwise, top performers or future leaders might be overlooked due to a previous job title.
Anyone can be trained on programs, methods, practices, and procedures, but soft skills are natural gifts and abilities that can’t be trained into someone. I recently came from working in law enforcement and something I learned from my previous organization was “it takes all kinds”. Some of the best police officers were previous food service workers, construction workers, nannies, and retail employees. If my department only hired for prior job title, there wouldn’t be a police force. Each one of these officers possessed soft skills and transferable skills like natural leadership, communication, critical thinking, adaptability, and problem solving. These skills came from their previous jobs and were an important piece to becoming an officer or investigator.
When I transitioned from being a police officer to an agency recruiter, I brought a host of transferable skills. The ability to connect with people, to interview, asking follow-up questions, negotiation, decision making, conflict resolution, and the ability to process a large amount of information in a short amount of time. All these skills are invaluable to being a good recruiter, but most wouldn’t look at a former police officer as their next recruiter. It’s more difficult and time consuming to think about the skills other jobs require and what transferable skills a candidate may bring to the table, but it’s worth giving them a chance and seeing what they could add to an organization’s success.
Take the time to talk with the person who has applied and if you don’t have time, this is a great reason to work with a recruiter. Either listen to your recruiter when they talk about a candidate’s transferable skills or find out for yourself exactly what else a candidate can offer your organization other than previous work history. The barista that applied could be the missing link in your sales team. The construction worker could be your best customer service manager. They are looking for someone to give them a chance, just like someone gave you a chance at one point or another in your career.
Courtney is a Recruiter at Celebrity Staff. She previously worked at Celebrity Staff in 2013 and rejoined the team in April 2021 after working as a Police Officer for several years. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and dog.