Be open to applying job skills to new areas

By Eve Nicholas

It takes time to recover from an economic slowdown. Businesses scramble to bring in revenue. They revamp their infrastructures, cut costs and tackle new markets. Over time, when they begin to stabilize their operations and finances, they’ll look toward the future and hire new workers in droves.

But we aren’t there yet. We’re still in the transition phase. The march toward recovery can be frustrating, especially for people who need jobs right now.

The good news is that many companies aren’t scrambling. They may not be hiring in droves, but they aren’t stagnant either. There are positions to be filled. Jobs to do. Even the businesses that are merely “getting by” need dedicated employees and managers to arrive at work, roll up their sleeves and meet their responsibilities each day.

I’ve said this before but I believe it bears repeating: Even in a sluggish market, new opportunities open up all the time. People retire. They relocate. They accept promotions. Companies develop new products which require full-time workers at all stages of operations, supply chain and sales.

Plus, some industries are actually growing despite the economy. Businesses in certain fields — such as health care, biotechnology, green energy, security and information technology — are bringing in consistent revenue, building robust infrastructures and anticipating significant growth. This means that some companies are actively hiring new staff for a wide range of positions.

Notice that I used the phrase “wide range of positions.” Many job hunters don’t realize that their skills and experiences can be applied to vastly different fields. They forget that they don’t have to be physicians to work in health care, or understand the ins-and-outs of computer systems to land jobs with leading-edge technology companies.

Every business needs managers, human resource professionals, accountants and sales or service representatives to ensure its success. Depending on its size, an organization may employ dozens or hundreds of workers from entry-level personnel to senior executives. These people don’t necessarily perform complicated technical or scientific tasks. They keep the business running by drawing on their skills in operations, finance, marketing and administration.

I have personally helped individuals transfer their skills from anesthesiology to medical device sales, teaching to corporate training, real estate brokerage to green building consulting. I have also witnessed and supported operations managers, human resources directors, sales associates, investment traders and business analysts switch from one field to another.

If you need a job quickly (or want to take your career in a new direction), don’t limit yourself to the industries that you already know. Open your mind. Find ways to transfer your proven skills to an up-and-coming field. Start by creating a list of your tangible, work-related skills. For instance, a financial analyst working for a local investment company might include market analysis, product sales, financial modeling and managing relationships with high net worth clients.

Next, determine which skills might seamlessly transfer to other industries. In the above example, those client relations and sales abilities would benefit a technology company that markets to high-profile government or business professionals. Similarly, those skills in economic analysis and financial modeling could assist a venture capital firm in evaluating investments.

Finally, create a high-impact presentation that matches your skills to the new industry and demonstrates how you will boost the growing business. Good luck.

Contact Eve at