If you’re like me, you’ve always had a sense that some professionals can move around the pitch more readily than others.
They seem to shift between sectors without a backwards glance, effortlessly changing position. Then there are the rest of us, those with vocational and/or specific qualifications who have to push hard to move about within our own sector, never mind jumping to another one.
Within my built environment career, we knew that if you spent more than 5 years in Local Government you’d struggle to move to private practice. Equally if you hadn’t worked across all specialities in your first 10 years you’d never get another chance. This doesn’t help when it comes to taking a long hard look at your transferable skills, in fact it doesn’t even encourage you to think you have any. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can be so deeply ingrained that others can’t see your transferable skills either.
But look we must, if we are to make the most of our experience.
When my involvement with Oook Audio was being considered, someone asked “yes, but what can she bring to the table?” Well, I’m a composer / musician who records her own tracks. I also have plenty of administration and professional experience. But that wouldn’t get me the role of designing and managing the systems for a new digital download business. I suddenly had to think hard about what I had to offer. I realised I needed to look at my skills the way my sector-shifting colleagues seemed to do: starting with where I wanted to get to and working backwards. In effect, the opposite way to writing a CV.
So the CV went in the bin (along with my previous job descriptions) and I set about putting a shape to the new systems. We needed to spec a unique 3-portal IT platform and before it was ready, develop processes to work on proprietary software in ways that would enable subsequent data transfer. An administrator’s dream and geeky heaven…! And about as far as you could shift from land-use planning.
It was then I had my Eureka moment (no bathwater was spilled)! I was involved in replacing a major IT system for Local Government, including data transfer from the legacy system … a 3-portal platform with surprising similarities to the challenges I wanted to take on. There were the transferable skills I was looking for! They had been hidden below the surface, probably under ‘Any Other Duties’.
Why did it take a Eureka moment? Because I was starting with where I had been, not where I wanted to go. I was looking only at the jobs I held, not the ancillary projects I had worked on. In short, I hadn’t realised just how far I could open the transfer window.
This realisation has changed how I view my own transferable skills – and boosted my confidence. Since then I’ve opened the transfer window to find marketing, social media and comms skills too … and hopefully the skills required to blog about my experiences…! I’ll be keeping it wide open from now on.
About the author
Sarah has one career as a built environment professional in Local Government, with over 20 years experience managing multi-disciplinary teams, large-scale mixed-use developments and a team budget of over >£1M. Alongside this she has worked as a composer, songwriter, backing vocalist and media music writer with numerous TV credits. Her current role is Director for an online, digital downloads music library, where she manages … stuff.