By Adele Dubin and Natasha Srulowitz
Welcome to our new monthly column: Career Buzz. Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Adele Dubin and Natasha Srulowitz, and we are Wayfind. We live in the Five Towns and for the past five years have been fortunate to work with many young people in our broader community, empowering them with the clarity and confidence to make wise, educated career decisions.
As COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to what is already a challenging subject, we have decided to begin this monthly column. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or topics you would like to see addressed.
Throughout the past nine months, COVID-19 has created a new understanding of uncertainty. Inundated by the incessant stream of society’s changing tenets, we are forever trying to redefine our existence.
This uncertainty has had a domino effect on businesses, impacting business owners and employees alike. People working in retail, travel/leisure, event planning, food establishments, and real estate have been hit hard. Recent graduates see fewer opportunities to choose from.
Included among them are those who, despite being professionally positioned, are suddenly forced to transition to other careers. Others are recent additions to the workforce who, to their consternation, must consider other avenues to pursue. If you have been similarly affected, must you divest yourself of your dreams and start from scratch?
Fortunately, the answer is absolutely not. Be secure in the knowledge that you already possess transferable skills. A transferable skill can be defined as a skill you used in one role or industry that would be useful in another type of role or in a different industry. It is these transferable skills that you want to leverage to market yourself for other job titles and industries. Industry-specific experience is not always a prerequisite. Potential is the primary factor employers seek in a candidate. Accordingly, it is key that you sell your potential by demonstrating the transferable skills you bring to the table.
Throughout your life — whether at work, school, home, or socially — you have worked diligently to develop these skills. They come from past leadership roles, volunteer endeavors, side hustles, sports involvement, or other interests or activities, as well as other responsibilities you take upon yourself.
Before you jump into any available job, take the time to know what you have to offer. Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Evaluate both your hard and soft skills.
Hard skills are tools or tasks in which you are proficient. They are skillsets that you learn in a classroom or online or on the job that are quantifiable. Examples include programming languages, web design, data analytics, graphics, Microsoft Office, social media, SEO, reporting and analysis, accounting, CRM (customer relationship management), or professional certifications such as PMP (project management professional) or CISM (certified information security manager).
Soft skills are more subjective and harder to quantify. They are more about how you relate to and interact with people. Some examples include communication, teamwork, leadership/management, emotional intelligence, organization, creativity, and problem-solving.
Once you have a better understanding of your transferable skills, analyze further to identify those you really love to use. The next step is to think about how you can apply these strengths and add value in the new role, industry, or company.
You may think that the skills you have are very specialized — meaning they only apply to one specific job. For example, if you are a dental hygienist, cleaning teeth is a critical skill that will likely not transfer to anything else. However, as a dental hygienist, you may have a lot of other skills that can be applied to other jobs, such as customer service skills and the ability to make patients feel safe and comfortable.
At Wayfind, we have had clients who studied and worked as accountants but were feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. A person can feel this way when she has an ability that is not being expressed in her current role. She has to understand the dynamics before she pivots. As an accountant, she can use her transferable skills, such as number memory, budgeting, analysis, planning, and multitasking abilities in other roles and industries. She can use her technical skills to transition to financial analysis or data analytics, compensation and benefits analysis, internal auditing, or loan or insurance underwriting. Often, it is her soft skills that will determine which is the best fit. If she possesses strong empathy, interpersonal abilities, or idea productivity, she may consider transitioning to other fields that are more creative and relationship-driven like wealth management, financial counseling, fundraising, or even interior design.
When evaluating ourselves, we should be looking across all aspects of our lives—personal, volunteer positions, and other work experience. If you were a madrich or madrichah, or worked in Ohel Bais Ezra, the skills you developed can transfer to an entry-level HR role, or the software you learned in class may be used in professional roles as well. If you chaired the annual tzedakah dinner, you can use that leadership and planning experience when you apply for a project management job.
Once you have made a list of your experiences and skills, highlight the ones you enjoy doing. Research the industries that are of interest to you and brainstorm which roles require these types of skills. If you are not sure, pull up a few job descriptions or set up informational interviews with professionals working in that industry. The question you are asking yourself is: where has your experience, professional, academic, or personal, aligned with the skills needed for your next opportunity? List your hard and soft skills and think about in what other contexts they can be used. Once you know how to communicate how your strengths transfer, you should network as much as possible! Connections provide advice, leads, or even a referral for an open position.
Whenever we are forced to change direction, we should look at it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Use the time to reflect on your personal strengths, interests, and goals, and educate yourself on other roles and industries so that the next job will be your dream job!
Wayfind’s mission is to help people in the frum community choose career paths that best suit their interests, skills, strengths, and values. The Wayfind career advisers work with clients across the U.S., Israel, and other countries, helping them develop stronger self-awareness and understanding of their career options, and positioning them for long-term success. They can be reached at wayfindcareers.com or email@example.com.