On 14th June I spoke at the CILIP London network’s AGM. I was asked to talk about something personal. As one of my themes this year is transferable skills. I opted to share my story, highlighting my use of transferable skills and tips on moving sectors. I entitled the session: Mind the gap: reflection on transferable skills and moving sectors.
The event took place at CILIP’s Ridgmount Street office in the early evening of a really sunny day, so attendance was slightly lower than expected, with about 15 people. We had a good cross section of attendees representing all career stages, a variety of different sectors, with most people having moved between at least two sectors. This made for an informal session which meant we had a great discussion after my talk about barriers to moving sectors (are we, information professionals, the main barrier?) the benefits of highlighting transferable skills, and tips and advice on how to get the best out of the interview process (it’s a two way process).
Thanks to those – you know who you are – who took part in my survey of transferable skills and advice on moving sectors. The three most transferable skills identified by my survey are:
Flexibility – be prepared to take on new roles and activities;
Curiosity and an aptitude to learn – you don’t have to be an expert on everything, just use your information skills to ask the right questions and find an answer.
Organisational culture and influencing skills – it’s important to understand how your organisation operates and how best to influence key people.
Advice on moving sectors included:
- importance of using plain English in your applications and at interview. Make sure to practice describing what you do in language that resonates with those in other sectors;
- don’t restrict your examples of activities to just work experience. Remember to include volunteer experience too; often you may have done something more challenging and impactful as a volunteer;
- use your network for advice on how to learn about a new sector; what to include on applications and what to say at interview;
- always ask for feedback after an interview, or if you don’t get shortlisted but expected to. You will always learn something that will help you with developing skills or improving your interview performance;
Finally, persevere. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. We all have had to make many applications before getting the right job.