One of the questions I’m often asked by job seekers is how to figure out if their skills are transferable to other industries. Here are four steps to help you find out.

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One question I’m often asked by job seekers is how to figure out if their skills are transferable to other jobs or industries. Here are four steps to help you find out:

Analyze the job requirements. Carefully review the requirements (in the job posting) for the positions that interest you. What knowledge and skills are required? Experience? What type and level of education is required or preferred?

Analyze yourself in terms of the requirements. Which of the job requirements do you fully, partially or not meet? Think about the ones you fully meet and brainstorm how you’ve used those skills. Be prepared to describe situations that demonstrate your successful use of these skills.

For each requirement you don’t meet (or partially meet), think about how you could gain the required knowledge, skills, experience or education. Could you read books on the topic? Complete a class or attend a seminar? Get a certification? Create a development plan for every requirement you don’t meet, and be prepared to share this with a hiring manager.

Seek out people working in your target job. Network to find those who work in your targeted job or industry, and then meet with them (offer to buy them coffee or lunch) to discuss the job requirements and your self-assessment. Get an insider’s opinion on what he or she believes are the most important job skills to be successful in the position, and ask if there are any areas of concern about your background.

Consider general skills necessary across most industries and careers. Several skills are transferable, no matter the job or industry.

  • Critical thinking: The ability to think through situations to solve problems, make decisions and take appropriate action.
  • Collaboration: The ability to effectively work with others (even those with opposing points of view) and build diverse teams.
  • Creativity: This isn’t just about being innovative, but is also the ability to see what’s not there or what needs to change, and then making it happen.
  • Communication: The ability to synthesize situations and data, and then convey ideas both verbally and in writing.

Think about ways you could demonstrate these skills to a hiring manager, and how you would use them in the new position if you were hired.

You can successfully change jobs or industries, but it requires a process of analysis, planning and then practicing how you’ll communicate your career “story” and skills to a hiring manager.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at