I’ve talked about transferable skills (skills you take with you wherever you go) in other articles. But you might be looking for specific examples, especially if you’re considering a career change.
Although I use the case of a mythical business analyst, the same concept applies to help any employer see that skills you already have match what they are looking for. It’s not always obvious at first glance – especially when a computer system reviews resumes and looks only for exact keywords.
So you have to help them get it. And, while I’m not saying this will get you the job every time, transferable skills can help open up jobs and careers for you that on paper alone might not seem possible.
Transferable Skills for a Business Analyst (Example)
Depending on the type of job and employer, even if you come from a different background there are often ways to still get your foot in the door. I know this first-hand having worked for many years as a business analyst, even though I came from a “transferable” but not directly-related background.
Business Analysts understand business subject matter (big plus if you already do), as well as organizational / departmental needs, business processes and systems. They work with in-the-trenches folks and management to help plan new systems, processes and business improvements.
They often have special knowledge of process diagramming software, something you can easily pick up the basics for on your own or take a class. There’s also lots of jargon you can quickly learn if needed.
Sample transferable skills
So what kinds of skills can help get you to an entry- or even mid-level business analyst job? Look to your past jobs or projects where you’ve used skills similar to these, required for most business analyst positions:
- analytic skills
- planning skills
- strategic skills
- problem solving
- needs / requirements gathering (did you ever get asked to interview people for something that was being purchased for example?)
- clear business writing and communication
- chart-making (organizational or flowcharts – have you done PowerPoint diagrams perhaps?)
- helped develop better ways to do things (new processes)
- managed project implementation details
- ability to deal easily with systems and technical people
- follow-through for a major project (from start to finish)
Even if you aren’t looking to become a business analyst, the basic approach is the same. And some of these skills might even be ones you can use.
How do you make your case to the employer?
First, look carefully at the Business Analyst job description. Wherever you can honestly use some of the same words that they use to describe required and preferred skills, do so on your resume and in your cover letter.
You can’t say you were a business analyst (unless you were), but you can reshape your resume to emphasize some of the very skills they are looking for. This can help you get past the screeners, both human and automated. Although where possible, get your resume and cover letter into human hands.
Also, to improve your chances, you can quickly teach yourself the basics of some diagramming software like SmartDraw (good online examples) or Microsoft Visio, and list that on your resume saying “some familiarity” and explaining if asked that you are picking it up on your own.
NOTES: Please don’t say you have a skill if you haven’t – or if you can’t teach yourself at least the basics quickly before the interview.
Now, use your cover letter to sell yourself!
It helps a lot if you have subject matter knowledge already, and if you do, tell them. For example, if you’ve helped with bookkeeping or accounting, you probably know most of the departments involved and what they do. And you know what the business is about. That’s subject matter knowledge.
Then pick a few key skills and show how your experience matches, even if the titles and specific things you did don’t exactly match.
Close by telling them how excited you are by the chance to apply your skills to their job and company. The more sincere you sound – and are – the better.
A few more thoughts
As I said, no guarantee. If they list the job with lots of specific software and heavy experience required, then probably not a good chance. But in the right situation and with some basic transferable skills, Business Analyst is a position you can at times talk your way into – and then grow into nicely.
A big plus if you can find someone in the company to help make your case. And if you are already in the company and want to move into business analysis, even better. Again, find someone to help where possible.
I only used Business Analyst as an example. But whatever job you want to move into, this gives you the idea about how to approach your own job shift, and how to repackage your very real skills to help make the employer see how perfect you would be for them.
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