Transferable Skills Unlock Your Ideal Career

August 11, 2015

What do you love to do? Years ago I first used What Color Is Your Parachute? in my job search. I was a frustrated salesman. I didn’t like sales and had moved into operations only to lose my job. Now what?

So I spent a few weeks reading and working through What Color is Your Parachute?. Transferable skills are one of the topics covered in the book and the first time I read about them I was hooked. The author, Richard Bolles described transferable skills as our verbs. Our skills are the things we do. Traits are adjectives. They describe us. And our roles are the jobs we have. But our transferable skills are the verbs we do in any role.

So I took the advice the author described in the book and wrote several stories about my past. Each story began with an goal or objective. What were we trying to do?  Then it described the problem, or obstacles keeping us from getting to our goal. Then the story described the action plan and finished with measurable results.

Back when I first read the book, I remembered circling the action verbs.  Now he has a form called the Parachute Skills Grid that walks you through identifying the transferable skills you used in each story.  He then suggests you rank the skills by how often you used them, how comfortable you are using them and how much you enjoy using them.  In the end, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, why do it? So he helps you focus on finding your most valuable and your most enjoyable transferable skills.

In the book, Bolles uses the image of a flower to show the facets or sections of the Job of Your Dreams.  In the center of the flower are the transferable skills and around the outside are the results of other exercises to help you identify your ideal interests, people environments, purposes and goals, working conditions, geography, salary level and responsibility

Over on LinkedIn, I just published Transferable Skills Unlock Career Enjoyment about how the story of David and Goliath drove home the importance and the value of knowing my transferable skills. If you get a chance, go check it out.

Then consider writing some stories about your accomplishments.  You can find the Parachute Skills Grid online or get a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute? to work through these exercises and more. In fact the author has several other exercises designed to help you complete your flower, the picture of the Job of Your Dreams.  You can also check out the authors website for current articles and other helpful resources too.