Part 2: How to Position Your Transferable Skills to Employers
Now that you’ve identified which skills you can apply in the impact sector (if you haven’t done this yet, refer to this article), it’s time to communicate them in a way that resonates with potential employers. Positioning corporate skills to appeal to employers in the purpose-driven sector requires a strategic approach that highlights relevant experiences and showcases a genuine commitment to creating positive change.
Show your understanding of the Sector
The first step is to understand what skills and qualities are in demand. Some universal skills, such as project management, communication, leadership, strategic planning, financial acuity, business development, fundraising, budgeting, and evaluation, are highly valued. Deeply understand the job descriptions and organisational culture of your prospective employers. Research the specific social or environmental issues the impact organisation prioritises. What are the pressing challenges they aim to address? Familiarise yourself with their mission, values, and projects to gain insights into their focus areas.
Where you can, use impact-driven language. Familiarise yourself with the terminology and language of the sector. Relevant terms that show you’ve done your research can be seamlessly integrated into your communications to show that you speak their language.
Display Adaptability and Flexibility
Highlight instances where you demonstrated adaptability and agility in your corporate career. How are you prepared to embrace a different work environment in the impact sector? Showcase your willingness to learn and your openness to adopting new methodologies.
Emphasise instances where you’ve worked in unfamiliar environments or navigated change successfully. This will underscore your ability to adapt and thrive in new settings, a crucial trait in the dynamic world of social impact.
Highlight Relevant Experiences
Customise your CV and cover letters by highlighting projects or roles that have direct relevance to the position you’re applying for. If you’ve managed a sustainability project in your corporate role or volunteered for a community program, these experiences should be front and centre.
Highlight your transferable skills prominently on your resume. Tailor your resume for each application to align with the job description and use a skills-based resume format to emphasise your skills over job titles. For each role in your career history, highlight key responsibilities and achievements that demonstrate these skills.
Be sure to use keywords that align with the social sector and elaborate on the transferable skills from your corporate background that align with the potential role’s needs. How can your strategic planning, financial management, investment management, marketing, data analysis, project management, and team leadership skills (for example) contribute to the organisation’s objectives?
Demonstrate Quantifiable Impact
The impact sector values tangible outcomes. Wherever possible, use numbers and metrics to show how your involvement led to positive changes in previous roles. Did you improve efficiency, raise funds, support more businesses through investment,or expand a program’s reach? Quantify these achievements.
Elaborate on your involvement in corporate social responsibility or impact initiatives. Detail the outcome of your contributions to CSR or sustainability projects and how they align with the social or environmental mission of the organisation you are interested in. Share stories of inspiring others to create a positive impact and showcase your ability to lead change effectively.
Show Genuine Commitment
Consider joining courses, attending webinars, or even volunteering or becoming a Trustee to gain more sector-specific knowledge. By mentioning that you have participated or become intrinsically involved in these types of activities, it shows that your transition isn’t a whim but a well-thought-out career move.
Network thoughtfully by engaging with professionals in the sector, joining relevant forums, and attending events and conferences. Ask questions, seek mentorship, and actively listen. Building authentic relationships will not only enhance your knowledge but may open doors to potential opportunities.
Practice Your Pitch
Creating an elevator pitch isn’t just about summarising your professional journey; it’s about connecting the dots between your corporate experience and your aspirations in the purpose-driven sector. Given the limited time you often have in networking situations, a well-crafted elevator pitch is a tool to present yourself effectively and leave a lasting impression.
- Begin with a Strong Opening: Start your pitch by sharing a compelling statement about who you are and what drives you. This could be tied to a personal story, a specific experience, or a realisation that prompted your interest in the social sector.
- Highlight Key Transferable Skills: Quickly mention two or three skills you’ve honed in the corporate world that would be invaluable in the impact sector. Focus on those that are universally recognised and relevant.
- State Your Objective Clearly: Be concise about what you’re looking for, whether it’s insights, advice, a specific job role, or partnership opportunities. Tailor this depending on your audience.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Once you’ve crafted your pitch, practice it repeatedly. Say it aloud to yourself, practice with friends or mentors, or even record yourself. The more you practice, the more natural it will sound.
- Adapt and Tailor: No two interactions are the same. Learn to adjust your pitch based on who you’re talking to. If you’re speaking with someone deeply entrenched in grassroots initiatives, you might emphasise your adaptability and desire to learn from the ground up. If you’re speaking with a leader, you might stress your strategic skills and the broader value you bring.
- Collect Feedback and Refine: As you put your pitch to the test in real-world situations, gather feedback. This might come directly from asking trusted contacts for their impressions or indirectly from gauging the reactions of those you’re speaking to. Use this feedback to refine and perfect your pitch over time.
Remember, your elevator pitch is not a static tool. It should evolve as you gather more insights, experience, and clarity about your goals in the purpose-driven sector. The goal is to be authentic, relatable, and memorable, demonstrating both your unique value and your genuine commitment to social impact.
Be Passionate and Authentic
Above all else, the fact that you are willing to make this significant change tells employers everything they need to know. Go back to the “why” you uncovered (refer to this piece for more information). Express your passion for the impact sector genuinely and authentically. Showcase your dedication to making a difference beyond corporate objectives by emphasising your commitment to social and environmental causes.
If you’re the kind of person who benefits from a bit of structure and accountability, we’ve created a rubric to guide you through a career transition. If you fill it out by yourself, it might take some acute honesty and self-awareness. You could also do a mock interview with a colleague, friend or mentor.
Hopefully, the areas that need more work will become clear, and you can work on building them. Revisit this rubric every few weeks as you navigate your career transition and track how your knowledge and expertise develop.