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Your Skills – Translate, Transfer

November 3, 2018

It was reported recently that the Minister for Defence Procurement had declared war on acronyms within the department, so fed up was he with the manner in which defence personnel converse. Apparently, the Minister is not alone in his frustration - MPs have expressed concern that the military's longstanding love affair with abbreviations and jargon could negatively impact their ability to communicate with those ‘on the outside’.

Leaving to one side the limited imagination of pinstriped pen-pushers, it is worth considering how you can best translate and transfer your skills, knowledge and experience effectively into a new job or career. Whether you are leaving the Armed Forces, have been out for some time, or are a lifelong Civvy, making sure that your qualities are relatable and desirable to employers is of vital importance.

If this sounds daunting, fear not, our friend and HR guru Giles O'Halloran has shared with us his expert insight...

Transfer of Skills

Whatever job or vocation we choose, we develop skills. We often attain a certain level of mastery, sometimes recognised through qualifications, sometimes through promotion or other such rewards. Skills are transferable and an asset we have as individuals, but we often downplay those that we think can't be transferred.

It is worth sitting down and taking time to consider skills you have developed over your career to date and then think what would be comparable in other fields. Check job ads to see what other words are used by specific sectors. Jargon should be avoided, but understanding it and how it differs between sectors is important.

Once you have your list of skills, consider your level of mastery, perhaps on a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being expert and 1 being basic. This will then help you understand where your skills may fit best when considering career options. It should help you hone and understand where your interests lie. I would also strongly advise you consult with friends, family, colleagues, and also recruitment or career specialists, who may well be able to help you to identify skills you may not have considered.

Transfer of Experience

It is all very well studying in order to understand the theoretical side of a job, but experience of doing it is invaluable. Many people find that when they apply for a job, they need both qualifications and experience, but often have one without the other. Remember that the job advert or specification is always for the ideal candidate but rarely is that candidate out there in the market.

Employers are therefore willing to consider individuals with relevant experience – hence, experience is key and a very transferable asset. Qualifications are a benchmark, but experience is something that a hiring manager will often look for as it shows a candidate has the capability and real time skills.

Transfer of Knowledge

As we work, we develop knowledge way beyond just the responsibilities or duties listed in a job description and we take this very much for granted. We learn to work within different organisational structures, different cultures and often in very different environments. This knowledge becomes second nature and we take it for granted.

However, a candidate who understands or can adapt to different cultures, has the ability to work flexibly and build strong networks is an incredibly valuable asset. As is someone who can work with people at all levels and in cross-functional teams.

Critical Thinking

How often do we take time to reflect on our learning, on how we might do things differently - or better - based on experience? Critical thinking is an immensely attractive quality to employers but, importantly, if we can critique ourselves and learn, we become even more marketable and our skills more transferable.

About the Author

Giles O'Halloran is an experienced HR and Recruitment professional who works as a freelance consultant, strategist, writer and coach. He also spent 12 years as a reservist with the UK's Reserve Forces, serving first with the TA and later with the RAuxAF. Giles is passionate about technology, the value of networks and the future of work.


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