3 tips for building transferable skills

In her bid to secure the role of Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark identified what she believed to be an opportunity to fill a leadership gap within the team. She understood she was not the candidate with the most development experience or expertise, but she also understood the value of the skills she had built leading a country, and how those skills could be transferred to the Development Programme role.

This got me thinking about the importance of transferable skill sets and the exciting opportunity that awaits us all. Quite often these transferable skills are soft skills, ones that can be learnt and by understanding their inherent value and capacity to influence our path to success our possibilities become endless. Here are my 3 tips for identifying and building skill sets that are transferable.

1. Look outside the box. Quite often transferable skills are developed outside of specific industry experience related to, for example, your KPIs. Being able to identify a set of skills that you have built up over time, both in and out of the office is a key step in unlocking the value. Think of soft skills like organisation, motivation, teamwork, listening, creativity, research, leadership, problem solving and presentation skills and how they relate to roles you are looking to tackle in the future.

2. Identify where you want to go. Isolate some of your key strengths and identify how they might be transferable. Helen Clark realised early in the UN application process that pitching herself as the leader the UN needed was the best way to stand out from a number of applicants who had significantly more development experience than she did. She could only do this by understanding what role she wanted to play in the organisation and how she could use her leadership skills to overcome any development specific experience she may be lacking.

3. Identify an area for improvement. The more of these skills you can build the greater chance you have of appealing to a much broader audience. Of course, we can’t all be great at everything, but knowing your weaknesses can be as important as knowing your strengths. Find ways to improve in areas that you think are most relevant to where you want to go and consciously work on developing in those areas.

What do you think, is it more important to be a leader or an expert? 

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Watch Warren Mundine’s interview on The Bottom Line