“Transferable Skills” Out – “Transferable Accomplishments” In

“I have transferable skills.”

Sounds innocent enough.  What you mean is that the job for which you are applying is your dream job, you can do it, you want to do it, and the employer need not be concerned because you have the skills to get the job done.


The employer does not hear, “I have transferable skills.”  The employer hears, “I’m not really qualified for the job but do me a favor and consider me anyways.”

Here’s the little thing you forgot:  Your job search is not about you.  You don’t matter.  Your job search is all about the employer.  Only what the employer wants matters.

But you still want the job.  And you still have those skills.  Well, the good news is that employers don’t really care about skills, they care about results.  So, instead of saying “transferable skills,” say, “transferable accomplishments.”

Well, don’t actually say it because the employer is going to hear, “I’m not qualified for the position but do me a favor…”  Think it.  Focus on your accomplishments.  “Transferable skills” is a negative term.  “Accomplishments” is a positive, so focus on them.



Some people just don’t listen.  “Don’t talk a lot.”  “Keep your answers short.”  What’s not to understand?

As a recruiter probably the biggest aggravation I have is when I find (who I assume to be) a great candidate for one of my clients, meet with them, advise them, get them the interview and then the client calls and, without knowing it, tells me that they did the exact opposite of what I told them.  In other words, what I told the candidate not to do is what they did.

The Number One error candidates make is thinking that the interviewer is their friend.  Not so!  The interviewer is a potential employer who is looking for a reason either to hire or not to hire you.   They want to hire you because they need to fill the position and they are fed up with the process.  They already know that you are qualified because they saw your resume.  They are not going to interview an unqualified candidate.  So they want to hire you.  But they are worried.  A bad hire can be a costly error.  So they are looking for signs – red flags.

The reddest of all red flags is acting inappropriately.  This does not mean the gross stupidities that everyone has heard and laughed at.  (My personal favorite is the guy would had pizza delivered during an interview because he was not going to have time to eat before getting back to work.  But he did offer the interviewer a slice!)  What this means is, primarily, talking too much.

Simple question:  Why are you looking to leave your present job?  Simple answer:  There’s no room for growth.  It’s not only simple, it’s also perfectly acceptable.  It’s time to move on is a legitimate reason to leave.  If you are my candidate I will tell the client that you are leaving your present position because there’s no room for growth.  As long as you confirm that, there’s no problem.  But what do some candidates do?  They expand.  They start saying what they do not like about their present job.  Why do they do that?  Because they like the interviewer and they think she is their friend.  They have gotten comfortable and comfort leads to trouble.

Bad mouthing an employer, present or past, will almost always kill a candidacy.  What will always kill a candidacy is telling the interviewer details about your personal life.  Don’t do it!  The interviewer is NOT your friend.  She does not care about your personal life.  She does care that you will not bring your personal life into the workplace.  If you are talking about your personal life during an interview, it’s safe to assume you’ll do so on the job.  So NEVER DO IT!

And thus the title to this post.   Give direct and succinct answers to questions and then SHUT UP!   If you don’t, it is almost a certainty that you will not get the job offer.