Why Most Skills are Non-Transferable

The best way to learn how to run a startup is not by getting an MBA, but by getting in the weeds, launching a site and talking to customers. The best way to write a book isn’t by studying literature, but by staring at an empty word doc until your eyes turn red and you’ve managed to spew out a few sentences. The best way to train for a marathon isn’t by riding a bicycle or rowing a boat or sprinting, but by running longer distances weekly.

That doesn’t mean there’s no value in an MBA, or studying Shakespeare, or doing some Crossfit during marathon training. Cross-pollination of ideas breeds strength and innovation, and you can even find a sweet spot of two or more skills to create your own niche (advice from Scott Adams). Having totally separate skills or hobbies, like being a physicist and playing the bongo drums, also comes in handy to keep your mind sharp. 

But if you want to get good at doing the thing, you just gotta do that thing. 

When it comes to your career, the idea of transferable skills is highly overrated. Generally speaking, your work experiences are viewed as objective. You launched a marketing campaign with a 200% ROI, you developed a product that was downloaded by 1 million people, you improved a process that resulted in 25% cost savings. If you said you did those things, you probably did, and they can be verified by digging into the details to see if you know what you’re talking about, and/or with a reference check. 

I’ve seen resumes/CVs list out columns of skills in an attempt to simply state “these are all the things I am good at”! Skills like “great communicator” or “team player” sound nice, but shouldn’t take up too much space. Instead, it’s more impactful to show, in specific terms, what you’ve done to demonstrate those skills. The proof is in the pudding. More tips here

But what about when you’re looking for a job and don’t have the actual skills, what then? Certifications can be useful, but aren’t quite the same as raw experience. The solution isn’t to try and finagle your way into the role, it’s to acquire those skills somewhere. 

You could start lower on the ladder and build the skills over time before moving into a bigger role, i.e., work as a product manager at a startup that will more readily hire you and then apply for a role at Google later on. The other idea is an internship, apprenticeship (for example here) or part time job in the field you’re interested, which can send a powerful signal that you have built some of these skills. 

These are relatively simple solutions but are prudent to think about in terms of your career. This isn’t to dissuade you from applying for a bigger role or aiming high. I think more often than not people are actually too picky about job applications, weeding themselves out on a couple of bullet points in the job description. 

Aim high, be bold and don’t hesitate to chase after your dream role. But in the process consider and be honest about what specific skills you’ll need to get there, and you are much more likely to succeed!

Want to discuss your career path and get constructive feedback on your CV/LinkedIn profile?  View our Coaches, here

 

Amazon Coaching Program

Kerri McKinney

Amazon Coach, Indeed Coach, Interview Coaching, Offer Negotiation

can help you to gain clarity on your goals and help you get multiple offers at Amazon, Google and Facebook

Technical Interview Coaching

Shelli Nemec

Amazon Coach, Interview Coaching, Offer Negotiation

will help you discover and define your own voice, gain confidence in applying and interviewing, and create a customized program to help you get a job at Amazon

Amazon Coaching

Evan Lee

Amazon Coach, Interview Coaching, Offer Negotiation

works with you to boost confidence, increase your self-awareness, and spend 1-1 time practicing for your upcoming Amazon loop interview

Laura Sheehan

Laura Sheehan

Career Coaching

will help you build an awesome resume, prepare you for interviews and help you land your dream job.

Technical Interview Coaching

Romen Barua

Amazon Coach, Expedia Coach, Interview Coaching, Netflix Coach, Offer Negotiation

will guide you to identify your counter-productive and career-limiting habits, and push you to stretch your capabilities further

Miguel Baumann

Miguel Baumann

Career Coaching, COVID-19 Volunteer Coach, Entrepreneur Coaching

will deep dive into your values and help you create a personalized career development roadmap

Lionel Bikart

Lionel Bikart

Executive Coaching, Leadership Coaching

is a strong and empathic listener and will find the the pertinent questions to help you move forward as a leader

Google Coaching

Claire Pinder

Google Coach, Interview Coaching, Offer Negotiation

will provide in depth support to help you prepare for your interviews at every stage of the hiring process at Google!

Technical Interview Coaching

Sue Schoormans

Interview Coaching, Offer Negotiation

Career & Intercultural Coach enabling you to Orientate your Career and Secure Your Ideal Job at Home and Abroad

Amazon Coaching Program

Munira Ali

Amazon Coach, Interview Coaching

can help you prepare your STAR stories, practice mock interviews, and give you honest feedback to improve

Technical Interview Coaching

Maya Tudor

Google Coach, Interview Coaching

is laser-focused on helping you get your foot in the door and nail the interview at Google!

Technical Interview Coaching

Mia Li

Amazon Coach, Facebook Coach, Interview Coaching

can get your foot in the door and practice mock interviews so that you nail the interview at Facebook!

Technical Interview Coaching

Anthony McGuire

Facebook Coach, Interview Coaching

will build your confidence and interview skills so that you can go in and rock the Facebook interview

Technical Interview Coaching

Tony Pribyl

eBay, Interview Coaching, Microsoft

will coach you on the key competencies required to reach your career goals and guide your transition into a role in a leading tech company like Microsoft or Amazon

Technical Interview Coaching

Chase Collins

Amazon Coach, Offer Negotiation

help increase the size of your offer!

Technical Interview Coaching

Anna Cseke

Amazon Coach, Interview Coaching, Offer Negotiation

My mock interview techniques will prepare you for the unexpected and I'll help you perfect your stories so they impress the interviewers

Technical Interview Coaching

Carlos Hattix

Amazon Coach, Microsoft, Uber

With 10 years experience guiding Interview Debriefs/Hiring Decision meetings at: Amazon, Microsoft, Uber and VMware, I have deep expertise on their interview evaluation process as well as compensation negotiation tactics.

Technical Interview from Engineers

Mags Munro

Career Coaching, Microsoft

I am a tech recruiting veteran that has worked for Amazon (API Gateway, Lambda, AWS) and Microsoft as a technical recruiter.

Spread the love

Sign up for our Newsletter​

We'll send you awesome tips to help boost your career.