Log In
Get Started

How to translate your skills for any job

by Rebecca Acree, on Mar 13, 2020 4:52:49 PM

“So, how familiar are you with running social media for a brand?” the interviewer asked.

I gulped. My knee-jerk reaction was to reply “Um, I’m not!”

Instead, I took a deep breath and did a quick mental scan of my resume.

“Well, I managed the social media presence for a non-profit I volunteered for in college,” I said. “It was a small organization, but I quadrupled their follower count over the course of a summer.”

The interviewer nodded, smiling. “That’s great. Can you tell me more?”

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to meet all of the requirements for a potential job. You may not even need to meet most of them! Chances are, you already have plenty of transferable skills — it’s just a matter of identifying them. Read on to learn more about translating your existing skills to any job!

Think beyond your job experience

Remember that your experiences and skills extend beyond those you gained on the job. Have you participated in any clubs, volunteer programs, or other activities? If so, what did you learn? What about relevant school courses? Don’t hesitate to include these experiences on your resume or cover letters, or to bring them up in an interview. There are plenty of ways to develop your skills outside of the confines of a job, so make sure you’re not selling yourself short. Consider the totality of your experiences when telling your story as an applicant!

Keep a record of your skills and achievements

Even if you’re not looking for another job right now, it always helps to get in the habit of keeping a record of any new skills, achievements, or praise you receive. It’s likely that you’ve learned or done some things that weren’t listed in the description of the job you have, but they might be listed in the description of a job you want! Even relatively small or one-off tasks can become important in the future. Taking diligent, regular notes of your achievements will make it much easier when you’re trying to match your skills and experience to a prospective position.

Don’t be afraid to get creative

Your resume might not align perfectly with the description of your dream job, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any overlap. Try to think about how you can reframe your existing experience. Maybe the job description wants 2 years of direct management experience, which you don’t have — but you’ve spent 5 years overseeing relationships with vendors. They’re different, but there are definitely some transferable skills there! For example, both someone who manages people and someone who oversees vendors would need to have strong planning and decision-making skills. These similarities can be highlighted with the language you use — mirroring the words in the job description is particularly helpful. Instead of listing “vendor oversight” as a line item on your resume, you could switch it to “vendor management.” As long as you’re still representing your experiences accurately and honestly, don’t be afraid to get creative with your language!

Even if you don’t meet all of the requirements for your dream job, apply anyway. With the right approach, you can unearth your uniquely relevant skills and qualifications. Make sure to consider the full spectrum of your experiences, and carefully tailor your application to the exact position. This will empower you to tell the best story you can, and you just might be surprised to find how qualified you actually are!