Transferable skills for working mums returning to the workforce.

Published by Matt Mason,

Transferable skills for working mums returning to the workforce.

Career Coach, Jo Lawrence – The Mum Mentor® – offers advice on how to work out your transferable skills. And why they are a key component in a successful return to work after a career break.

What’s the definition of transferable skills?

Transferable skills are those that will stay with you when you move jobs or careers. You have the choice in what they are, as they will give you consistency and control in a changing world.

Why are transferable skills an important consideration when planning your return to work after a career break?

Well, it might be that you don’t want to return to the same sector you were working in before-mum. It could be that you want a different style of working or are possibly thinking about starting your own business.

Essentially uncovering, recognising and articulating your skillset will help you get clear on your career direction, whilst building your confidence in the belief that you will be able to design a flexible career after kids. A flexible career that excites, allows you to grow and that fits around your lifestyle.

A deep dive into your transferable skills will help you pinpoint what I call your ‘Transferable Skills Toolkit’. Identifying and articulating your transferable skills and how they could translate to future career possibilities, and be applied in a new role, will further build your trust in your ability to make realistic and confident decisions about where your career is headed.

Also, being able to evidence your skills in your CV (even if you don’t use them today) helps make it clear to you and to those reading, what you can offer.

How to analyse your transferable skills

When carrying out a skills audit you must break your analysis down into small parts.

Step 1: Take the core transferable skill e.g. Problem-solving.

Step 2: Ask yourself:

  • What are the sub-skills that help me do that really well?
  • With which types of people do I do that really well? (e.g. trainees, colleagues, stakeholders)
  • In which contexts do I do that really well? (e.g. group meeting, individually)

Advice: don’t try to adapt your transferable skills to contexts, jobs, careers that you think may or may not happen.  Focus on what matters to you in the here and now.

This free online personality test is a great place to start, as a first step toward working out who you are and how you like to use your skills.

How to decide on your Transferable Skills Toolkit.

Think: whatever the job or company, what is going to stay with me?

What skills could you take with you into a job where you had no experience or expertise?

Mum skills

As a mum, you have built a new skill set and are likely feeling that you are disconnected from your former career self. We both know that you haven’t been on a ‘break’; far from it! But now you have the opportunity to showcase your robust and rounded transferable skills set and how you have been continuously developing whilst on extended leave.

So, which transferable skills are at the heart of your ‘mum skills’ toolkit?

Try putting them into categories.

  • Completely new skills:
  • Skills that I executed well before becoming a mum and have robustly consolidated:
  • Skills I needed to develop as a parent:
Mum and 3 children

Applying those skills

So, you’ve worked out your transferable skills, the next step is visualising how you could do a job that you’ve never done before by applying them in a different context.

If you walked into a family member or friend’s job for a day, what 3 skills would you use to try to do the job?

Knowledge and expertise are not what you would be able to rely on. It’s the ‘hows’ that are going to help you apply your transferable skills to any role.

Articulating your transferable skills

Getting your career story straight in your head and on paper will make your job search more efficient, more focused and less frustrating.

Here’s an example of talking about your skills in a cover letter/interview: “One of the talents that I’ve developed is my innovative thinking. Some of the ways I used this in my last role are x,y,z, and some of the ways that I could bring it to this role are x,y,z”

How transferable skills fit into your job search

When researching your career possibilities after a career break, you need to be focused, methodical and able to identify which jobs would allow you to thrive, grow and bring you happiness. When evaluating jobs, careers and sectors, your transferable skills need to be front of mind.

“I recommend devising a system to grade your career possibilities against your skills whilst you are researching. This will help narrow down your options and streamline the decision process”.

If you keep going round in circles

Having an external person helping you identify your transferable skills through an external lens, allows for a fresh perspective from which you can further reflect and make firm, considered decisions and choices.

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If you would like some support in working out your transferable skills and how they fit into the puzzle of making a clear and confident return to work, then book a free 30-minute discovery call with me where we can chat about you and your career goals.

Take a look at my 1:1 Career Coaching Pick-and-Mix Menu for Mums; designed to help you get clear and confident in your career after kids.

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