Developing Your Career

Career

Are Your Transferrable Skills the Key to a Career Change?

By Barbara Berman on September 1, 2015

If you’re stuck in a job that is unsatisfying or lacks potential for growth, or finding yourself back in the job market, or simply interested in exploring opportunities and trying something new, then you would do well to study the life and times of Travis Kalanick.

The CEO of Uber, the global ride-sharing application that operates in 58 countries, is considered one of the fiercest entrepreneurs in the tech world. Starting out in 2009 with $200,000 in seed financing, Uber is now a mobile sensation with a total estimated value of $50 billion.

How did Kalanick get into the mobile ridesharing business? Perhaps not surprisingly, by mastering the whole concept of file sharing.

Prior to Uber, Kalanick dropped out of UCLA with some of his classmates to found Scour Inc., a multimedia search engine and peer-to-peer file sharing service. After being threatened by film and music industry groups for copyright infringement, Scour eventually went bankrupt.

Rather than giving up on his dreams, Kalanick went on to found a new company, Red Swoosh, which again focused on file sharing. Eventually he was able to sell that company for more than $17 million.

Using that capital, he worked with co-founder Garrett Camp to develop Uber, a peer-to-peer application that allowed users to share rides, rather than media files.

When you study Kalanick’s career, you begin to see that his success had less to do with specific skills, and more because he could examine problems and formulate solutions. He did not become trapped in his first endeavor – media file sharing – but instead used his experience to take his skills and knowledge to a new challenge.

This is a valuable story for anyone that wants, or needs, to change jobs but must consider a different industry or function.

In short, your dream job could be found by exploiting your transferrable skills.

What exactly are transferrable skills? These are the things you do well, acquired knowledge and experience that can be transferred to another organization in a different sector or industry. We all have transferrable skills, even if we don’t always realize it.

You can identify your transferrable skills by using online tools such as LinkedIn, or Google Jobs to find people in other industries or sectors who have skills similar to yours. Plug into professional organizations – groups where people have the same education and designations but work in different industries – to find out where new opportunities may exist for someone with your skill set.

You’ll also need to network in a more dynamic way. Rather than just connecting with people who do exactly what you do in similar organizations, you’ll need to reach outside that comfort zone and gain some insight into completely different organizations in different industries.

Once you start to see new opportunities, you’ll need to buckle down and do some deep research to find the specific points of commonality with your former job, sector or industry.

Finally, you should quickly identify any gaps in education or skills. Some employers may find it a stretch to consider someone from a completely different industry; you will find great value in being able to demonstrate to potential employers that you have taken the time to meet their needs in terms of education or professional qualifications.

Through his evolution from multi-media file sharing to ride sharing, Kalanick has demonstrated that skills and expertise can be applied across different industries and sectors. And that the distance between what we’re doing now, and where we might do it in the future, is a lot closer than we think.

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