By Bock Szymkowicz, Career Development Specialist
When searching for a new career, many people assume they are a completely blank slate in terms of relevant skills. While there are some skills you probably need to learn for a new career, you probably already have a multitude of experience that makes you a strong candidate.
Past Work/Volunteer Experience
- Communicating with Customers: Retail or restaurant experience can help prove you can work with people. In a IT position, you will definitely need these skills.
- Professionalism: Past volunteer experience in an office shows you know how to work in a professional setting.
- Leadership: Your role as class president or involvement in a community association could show your capability to lead others.
Tip: A great tool is O*Net Online. Look up your past jobs to view the skills you used and see how these skills are applicable to other jobs.
Education (High School, College, Byte Back, etc.)
- Time Management: As a student, you had to meet many deadlines. If you are able to explain how you were able to manage these deadlines, along with any outside activities (be it parenting, outside jobs, or clubs), you can prove to an interviewer you know how to effectively manage your time and responsibilities.
- Working with Diverse Groups: In your classes, you have probably interacted with people of different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Being able to work with a diverse array of people is a hot commodity in today’s job market. Give examples of how you are able to work with others and get past any differences.
- Organization: Even organizing a child’s lunch, daily schedule, and outfit requires you to plan ahead and adjust. Giving examples of planning a birthday party or similar social event can leave a strong impression.
- Multitasking: As a parent, you need to be able to address multiple problems at once while staying calm, a necessity in any job.
It turns out you’re much more prepared for that job than you may have thought!
Take the time to think about your past experiences and prepare to talk about skills that relate to your new positions or career. Even if the match is not perfect, such as customer service skills in retail rather than IT, still go for it. Showing you have some experience will always be better than having someone assume you have none.