Never Say “Transferable Skills”

Many career counseling clients come to me frustrated because they have literally applied for hundreds of jobs and received few, if any, responses. The fault is theirs.

The first mistake many make is procrastination. They see an ad and instead of immediately responding, they wait. Sometimes hours; sometimes days. In the meantime, a hundred people have applied for the job and the employer has received enough resumes. Search over!

The second mistake is their cover letter. Instead of focusing on the needs of the employer, they focus on themselves. No employer is interested in how great you think you are. Keep the letter short and simple and focus on the one actual accomplishment you have that speaks to the job for which you are applying and will want to make the employer read your resume.

But it’s the third mistake that is the killer. They apply for jobs for which they are not qualified. And they highlight it by using the phrase “transferable skills.” Never write or say that you have “transferable skills.” Don’t write it in a cover letter and don’t say it in an interview.

When you write or say “transferable skills” you mean that you can do the job and want the job. But that’s not what the employer reads or hears. What they read/hear is, “Look. I’m not qualified for this position but do me a favor and consider me anyway.” Guess what. Employers don’t have to do you any favors.

So how do you get around the “transferable skills” problem? Write and speak about “transferable accomplishments” and, better still, don’t use the word “transferable.” Tell them what you have actually done not what you are theoretically capable of doing, which is also the inference of the word “skills.” After all, if you have actually utilized those skills you’d have something concrete to discuss. Employers want concrete!

Of course, the final reason why they have not received any responses may be the resume. But that’s a subject for a future post!

This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:

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