Today’s executives are increasingly sought-after based on transferable skills as opposed to industry-specific experience. Nowadays executives can easily move from heading the sales department of a major discount retailer to heading the operations of the state lottery. Another executive might move from a prominent position at an employee search firm to one at a manufacturing company. Each time this happens they are proving that transferable skills are more important than industry-specific skills.
A survey taken by ExecuNet of Norwalk, Conn., asked recruiters at search firms to name the top transferable skills they look for when trying to fill an opening. What they reveal are key attributes they seek in a candidate regardless of the specific industry. Someone strong in one or more of these skills will be able to excel in other jobs where direct technical knowledge is not a requirement for the specific position.
Here is what they found:
The effective leader uses talents and skills that transgress industries. Rudolph Giuliani was a proven leader as a prosecutor in the state of New York. These skills earned him the title “America’s Mayor” following the leadership he demonstrated as a mayor of New York following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Proven success in previous industry
Success is not just a matter of experience within an industry. Successful people are effective because they have learned how to be successful. They know it entails self-awareness, discipline, communication and the ability to build strong, lasting relationships. If an individual has done this in the previous assignment they will undoubtedly carry these skills and to a new job.
The individual that can be effective across many functions of an organization has proven they are adaptable and can learn quickly. Having a background that developed transferrable skills only strengthens one’s ability to shine in a new job.
Knowledge about the new industry
There is no denying the knowledge of the new industry is important. Unlike personal skills, industry knowledge is teachable. If someone has already demonstrated that they are able to learn some basics of the new industry is highly likely they will be able to cultivate this knowledge beyond the minimum requirement.
Teambuilding and development
Turnover costs are exceptionally high making employee retention very important. Richard Branson, the entrepreneurial head of Virgin industries, says it is important to train your employees so they can leave your employment but to treat them so that they will not want to. Having the ability to develop individuals, build effective teams and develop those teams is a transferable skill that adds a great deal of value to the employee that demonstrates them.