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Translating Skills Into A New Career

June 11, 2018

For many boomers, this stage in their career is one of change. Retirement is obviously a big example of this, though it is not for everyone. There’s a lot of talk about boomers staying in the workforce longer, but a growing story has been that of the second-act career. In this stage of their professional life, a lot of boomers want to keep working but want something new as well. This leads them to pursue new career paths.

Starting a new career like this is certainly intimidating. Despite years of experience, employers are not always looking for boomer candidates. You have to be able to present yourself as valuable and capable within this new position. That can be difficult. How can you make it clear that you are the right person for the job? If you see a career change on the horizon, consider this and take the following approaches to ensure your transition is as successful as it can be.

Make a skills inventory.

One early approach you can take is to consider the skills you already have at your disposal. No doubt you’ve acquired a lot of valuable skills over your long career. Make an inventory of them for your own reference. Don’t just think about the skills that might be useful in the new position – consider all of them. Start with the most valuable skills, think about the first skills you learned on the job, skills you need to improve on, soft skills that are useful in any type of work. Then start thinking of the skills necessary for the new position. Rank each skill in terms of proficiency and value to the position. Once completed, this will act as a great starting point to determine where your current skill set stands.

Consider your strongest assets.

Selling yourself to a new job means demonstrating your value. Out of all those many skills you’ve acquired throughout your professional life, there are some that will standout as your strongest skills. What are the skills that place you above the other candidates and make you a value? Identifying these skills is not always easy. This type of self-reflection can be difficult for some people, but it’s important to be able to identify your strengths in this way so you can effectively highlight them. If your strongest skills don’t translate, consider how they can be leveraged as an asset. Having a keen understanding of your own skills means you can understand how to sell yourself to a new position.

Study the job thoroughly.

Now that you have a sense of what you are bringing to the table, it’s time to look at what else you need to be bringing. This is when you do a deep dive into your new position and learn everything you can about it. As with any new job, you should know the job description inside and out. Read through every line of it to get the best understanding of everything they are looking for. What skills are they highlighting and which ones do you possess? This is where you must identify those skills you need to improve on and certainly which ones you need to add to your repertoire. I’ve never heard of a business trying to trick candidates with a job description. For the most part, they are telling you in plain English what is needed and expected for the job. It’s up to you to ensure you meet those standards.

Talk to someone in the industry.

Entering a new area without prior experience leaves a lot of uncertainty. You know your skills, you know what the job is, but there’s still a lot about it you won’t know until you actually start working. The closest you can come to gaining this experience ahead of time is by learning from someone else’s experience. Find someone in the industry, or better yet, someone who has performed the same job. Pick their brain for details, challenges and advice. Discuss what skills are best put to use in the position and ask them about their own experience within the position. Do your own research into the industry as well. Stay up-to-date with new skills and where things are headed. Second-hand experience is the next best thing to first-hand experience.

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