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How to spot the transferable skills you need for your business

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

The skills crisis continues to dominate the HR lexicon. Yet with Employers across the capital vying with one another to attract the best talent, it seems they could be missing a trick.

At a time of record employment, the shortage of available Candidates presents a significant challenge for those Employers with vacancies to fill. A change of approach is needed, and this is something we’ve increasingly been advising on for clients who are facing particular difficulties finding the talent they sorely need.

Rather than seek like-for-like replacements to fill existing roles or pursuing a set ‘type’ of Candidate who ticks all the boxes of what they ‘typically’ look for in an applicant, Employers should look beyond the previous roles and experience an applicant has. The focus instead needs to be on skills, attitudes, motivation and adaptability of the individual.

A break from the norm

Indeed, let’s take Marketing as an example. When recruiting for a Marketing Executive, it is fair to say that many hiring managers will be more interested in an applicant with previous marketing industry experience or a qualification in the discipline at the very least. They will invariably be less inclined to consider one with a background in customer services working in contact centres for banks, retailers or utilities companies.

But they should.

The way that consumers engage with organisations has changed beyond all recognition over the last decade, most clearly in the use of online, social media and mobile communications. This omnichannel approach to communications means that customer service professionals have a much broader skill set and a greater degree of flexibility than they once did. Theirs is a role that is focused on speed of response and maintaining relations with customers using any one of half a dozen or more channels of communication.

Such a way of working involves several key skills that can easily be transferred from a customer services role to a marketing one – problem-solving, relationship management, customer engagement, interpersonal skills, multi-media communication and tenacity. In 20 years of recruiting Candidates at every level, we have yet to come across a marketing role that doesn’t include most, if not all of these skills.

Nobody’s perfect (but you can still get the right fit)

The perfect Candidate rarely exists – if they did we could retire very happily and moor our yacht in the banks of The Thames just behind the offices. It’s not a matter of compromising, rather it’s understanding the precise requirements of the role you need to fill, and the skills needed to be successful in that position.

Focusing your search on those Candidates who come from a similar background to the advertised role is too narrow-minded in today’s ultra-competitive jobs landscape. Widen your search and look for those with skills that can easily be transferred and applied to your sector. In doing so, you’ll soon find the pool of available talent suddenly gets bigger and the Recruitment process itself becomes a lot less daunting.

Which transferable skills mean the most to you? Tell us, we would love to hear from you.

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