If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. You, the job seeker, announce with confidence: “I can do the job. I know I can. I just need someone to give me a chance.”
But in a tough economy full of qualified job seekers, skills don’t need to transfer. That’s because there are plenty of well-trained people with the right company background, certifications, and experience to meet and exceed the job requirements.
Those candidates don’t need training. There’s no delay in the new person’s affect on the department, and no risk for the hiring manager.
That makes it an easy decision for the hiring company.
• Are your skills transferable? Probably.
• Can you do the job if given the chance? Likely.
• Will you be given the chance? Unlikely.
So, if your skills are not transferable in a tough job market, what can you do?
Pursue jobs in your field, at your level, and in your function
While it’s exciting to try something new, in a tough job market you need to stay focused on where you are immediately relevant. Sounds limiting, I know. And it can be frustrating to hear. But companies are looking for specialists these days, not generalists. And transferable equals general.
[See 5 Job-Search Habits to Break.]
Consider delaying your career change
I’m not saying give up. But maybe it’s time to establish a longer time horizon. If you decide to delay, here are a few steps you can take today to create longer-term momentum: get a certification, attend a seminar, volunteer, or accept project work to get experience or exposure in the new industry or function.
Stop applying for jobs unless you’re truly qualified
Tighten your focus around your true strength areas and work more aggressively to create a relevant target company list. Once you have it, begin a push to network with everyone you know who can get you introduced or considered for jobs where you are highly qualified.
Employ a dual strategy
If you’re committed to making a change sooner rather than later, apply for jobs in your current field or function. Even if you don’t accept that job offer, at least you will have some options to consider when money gets tight.
Go get a job and then transfer, over time, to the new one
One way to reduce risk for a hiring manager is to get a job in your strength area and then, over time, apply for other jobs within the same company. This way, once you’ve established social credibility within a company, you can apply for other internal jobs. They’ll know you and your work. You can also be a star on cross-functional teams to expose your brand to other departments.
One other theory is to apply for everything and let the hiring company decide whether you have the necessary qualifications.
Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim's Strategy, a site that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter, @TimsStrategy, and learn about his two popular job-search books.