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10 skills you already have that can reinvent your career

These hiring managers and recruiters say you already have a lot of talents you could take to different industries.

by Jean Chatzky /
Image: Many companies are looking for individuals who can either solve problems
Many companies are looking for individuals who can either solve problems for a product that currently exists, or who can develop new products that solve problems.kali9 / Getty Images
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If you’re restless in your career, but worried you don’t have what it takes to land something different, it’s time for an adjustment — in your thinking. You may not realize it, but you probably already have impressive skills that will translate well in other industries. If you're considering reinventing your career in 2018, here’s a look at 10 tout-able talents that are impressive across the board.

1. Ability to solve a problem

Some people know how to identify problems and find ways to solve those problems, and others don’t, explains Kara Goldin, CEO of hint flavored water, who left a career in e-commerce at AOL to found her company. Problem solvers know how to dig in for answers and they don’t come up for air until they find them, Goldin says. Many companies today are looking for individuals who can either solve problems for a product that currently exists, or who can develop new products that solve problems.

2. Desire to learn

“It says a lot to me when I see that people are open to learning about another industry,” Goldin says. “If someone has spent time shadowing or interning, I can tell they are committed to making a switch, even if they haven’t spent years working in the field.” Whenever you have an opportunity to highlight your willingness to jump in and immerse yourself in your new industry, take it, she says. “It’s the best way to show that you’re going to see this through, that you’re not just trying on a new hat.”

3. Passion

Sometimes, it’s your hunger for a role or a product that will set you apart, Goldin says. “When people walk in my door and tell me how much they love my product, that counts for a lot. I am a big believer that passion trumps experience,” she explains. Because passion is often what gives people the motivation to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to learn, it’s one of the best qualities you can show a hiring manager during an interview.

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4. Adaptability

“Show me you can swim in any kind of water,” says Andrew Solomon, an executive recruiter and co-founder of Pivot Fitness in New Jersey. “When I know people can thrive in situations where they’re uncomfortable or not prepared, I know they’re going to be able to make that transition.”

Employees looking to move into different industries need to show adaptability to a variety of cultures, says Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner at human resources consultancy Keystone Partners. “[Someone] with prior experience and knowledge in a variety of industries can not only appeal as top talent, but also help the company spot future issues,” she says.

5. Being receptive to feedback from customers

Individuals who know how to engage with their consumers will always have a leg up, because you can’t build a successful product or a company in a vacuum, explains Georgina Gooley, an executive who left her career at an advertising agency to found Billie, a female-first shave and body brand. “You have to be receptive to constant consumer feedback, because we live in an ever-changing world. Your company and products need to evolve just as your customer does. People who can listen to feedback and make changes based on that feedback are going to be positioned as strong candidates.”

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6. Being curious

"When I interview someone, I want to know that they’re going to ask questions, and that they have an innate curiosity to figure out why some things work and why some things don’t,” Gooley says. “There’s science in that, but also a little bit of magic.” Some people may be afraid of asking questions out of a fear that they will look uninformed, but most worthwhile projects and roles have a level of complexity of things that need to be explored, says Autumn Manning, CEO and co-founder of YouEarnedIt, an Austin, Texas- based human resources technology company.

7. Project management skills

Project management involves many different elements: developing timelines, coordinating resources, setting goals and evaluating risk. “Hiring managers want to know they’re dealing with someone who not only understands the tasks, but who also sets aggressive timelines and goals, and who can see ahead of any risk and mitigate it,” Manning explains. In an interview, don’t be afraid to walk a hiring manager through a project you managed, and discuss your roadblocks and successes.

When I interview someone, I want to know that they’re going to ask questions, and that they have an innate curiosity to figure out why some things work and why some things don’t.

When I interview someone, I want to know that they’re going to ask questions, and that they have an innate curiosity to figure out why some things work and why some things don’t.

8. Written communication skills

In almost every position, you’ll be required to establish a good cadence and pattern of communication via the written word, Managing says. “Many people forget that communication can make or break your effectiveness in a management role, whether you’re managing projects or people,” she says. Hiring managers will want to know that you can clearly and effectively outline goals, and that your emails will leave no questions as to your meaning.

9. Intuition: Ability to read between the lines

Reading between the lines involves listening, yes, but it’s more about listening to how and when someone says something, Solomon says. “You have to understand where the person is coming from,” he says. “Did a client ask for a major change when they were angry? That might not be something they want to stick by the next day.” Try to determine what your intuition is telling you — over time, you’ll learn to rely on it, and it will give you a leg up in all your communications, he explains.

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10. Ability to get results

Finally, when you can deliver results, you’ll be looked at as a success no matter what industry you’re in, Solomon says. “When I see a strong track record, I know that this person has the capability to become successful. I know that he or she is willing to put in the time, do the work, and that with the right training, they could really be an asset.”

With Kathryn Tuggle

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