Hi all

I'm looking for some advice on how to decide what sort of jobs I should be applying for, and figuring out what skills I have might be transferable to another role.  Whilst that might seem like a strange question for most people, let me explain...

A couple of months ago, I found myself out of work (along with 17 of my colleagues) after working for the same company for my entire 26 year career so far.

The roles I have have largely been in middle management, with a handful of directs.  Of the recent roles, these have been focused around administering government contracts (where the company provides employment-related services that the Australian government then pays for).   I have a degree in Human Resources/Industrial Relations that I completed 9 years, and have recruited all new team members whenever there has been an opening, as well as previously recruiting apprentices for other companies.  I've done some basic IT support; accounts; payroll; customer service, however the last 10 years really has been quite niche work with the government contracts.

One of the first things I did when I was made redundant (perhaps that's an Aussie term - I think in the US its more referred to as 'laid off') was purchase the interviewing series, and am finding that truly helpful in getting me focused on what I need to put in my resume, cover letters, and preparing for interviews.  However, the idea of trying to figure out what jobs I should be applying for (and I've applied for 15 so far) is one I'm struggling with.  I haven't yet got so much as a phone interview, so am wondering what I am missing.  

Any suggestions that the Manager Tools community could provide would be most appreciated.  Thank you for your time 


sholom's picture


Your note raises some good questions to which I have the following thoughts:

You made the correct move by purchasing the Interview series as it has everything you need to get started. Your main question of how to know which of your skills are transferable is addressed in the cast titled "How to prepare yourself for interviewing". In that cast, Mark outlines the idea of using index cards to create a list of accomplishments. On the back, you are supposed to list all of the skills covered by the accomplishment. When you have all of those, and align them into groups of skills(such as HR, government contracts, etc), you will be able to get a very clear picture of what skills are on the table. With those, you can then begin to understand where your strong points are. Those strong points are usually the skills that will be transferable.

In your note, you mention a niche of working with government contracts. Being that it is a niche, there is usually a barrier to entry for people that lack experience in it. Therefore, staying within a niche that you have experience in does give you an advantage over others. I could imagine that both companies that arrange for government contracts (like your previous one), and governments themselves could use someone with your skills in negotiating them. Could you perhaps reach out to the contacts inside of governments that you dealt with while at your previous job who know you and your work. Perhaps they can bring you in for an interview, etc. Follow the advise of Mark Lucht when talking to your network of asking if you can use them as a reference instead 9of asking them if they know of a job.

Furthermore, download the additional casts on interviewing (from Career Tools) that are not a part of the Interview Series as there are many other items covered there that are important to know. (

Good Luck with your search!

BariTony's picture

 I was laid off after 15 years in an industry that I absolutely loved and had to make a career change because I couldn't find any opportunities. After exhausting all of my prospects over several months, I took three days to do an honest self-assessment before retargeting my job search. This may work for you - I'm a 'high C', so it worked for me.

2 caveats:

- Shut yourself away for a few days so you can concentrate uninterrupted. This is work!

- You need to be brutally honest with yourself

Day 1:

List everything you've ever done. Not titles, not jobs, but actual tasks. I mean everything. part time, volunteer, college. Go through old resumes, CVs, career documents, job descriptions, annual reviews to identify every single task that you've done. I took notes with a pen and paper. It's a psychological boost to see entire sheets of paper filled with tasks that you've done successfully. Ask friends, family, and colleagues if there's anything you do particularly well.

Day 2:

Map all of those tasks to actual skills needed to do them. I used a spreadsheet program at this point. Be honest and ask yourself what actual skills you demonstrated/needed in order to accomplish all of the tasks that you have done over your career.

Day 3: 

Analysis. It's at this point that you're going to start to see patterns that you may not have realized. My experience was that there were some basic skills I had never considered that started showing up over and over again throughout my career. I quantitated this. What %age of the tasks you listed took a particular skill, how many jobs used a particular skill or set of skills. Cut it down to a short list of very basic skills that you've used throughout your career.

Day 4:

Restart your job search, this time focusing on jobs with those skills, perhaps even using them as keywords. I started finding career opportunities that I had never even considered that seemed to match very nicely with my skills. Then rewrite your resume. Although I didn't have the benefit of MT at the time, if I were to do it now, I would be able to customize my 1-page resume to each position, highlighting my responsibilities and accomplishments at each position so that they were focused on the job I was applying to.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.













kittkat10's picture

Thank you for the input Sholom, I had started writing out the cards in terms of preparation for interview, and hadn't made the connection with using that to help with applications in the first instance.  I also like the idea of approaching my network about being referees.  Appreciate you taking the time to respond.



kittkat10's picture

Baritony, in terms of DiSC, I am a CD, which is probably why I can see your suggestions working pretty well for me as well.  Thank you for your input - it sounds like a variation on the MT idea of writing out cards mentioned in Sholom's post also.

Appreciate you taking the time, thank you.



cynaus's picture

Hi Jane, you've got some really great advice here to assist you in identifying your transferable skills. One thing that stood out for me in reading your question was that it felt like a scatter gun approach as far as "what to apply for". I think there is a gigantic piece of the puzzle missing but that may be because I'm D/i .... I can't imagine looking for a job just because I have the skills or because I'm good at it, if I totally hate it!  So I would recommend while sitting down and following Baritony's plan also add in there what you ENJOYED doing out of all those things that come up in your list. What gets you excited, what makes your heart pump and your blood racing (in a good way :).  You will have a better indication of where to steer your energy in your job search.

Also, passion for a role when applying will come through in your cover letter.  I'm sure you're not doing this and it's a handy reminder for everyone: A standard cover letter template that only changes the addressee and the job title, stands out a mile for recruiters (and even worse when the applicant forgot to change the addressee's name) - which I'm sure you can appreciate having done your own recruiting. Ensure you're writing the cover letter specifically for the job and be excited about what you can offer when writing the letter.

Good luck! Hope it all works out well. You're already miles ahead by just being here :)

(South Australia)




kittkat10's picture

 Thanks Cyndy, completely agree with your point of view. And very nice to hear from another Aussie.  

Before I apply for anything, I imagine myself doing the role, and if that seems exciting I start writing my letter. The middle paragraph in particular always gets completely rewritten for each new application.

Thanks again 

G3's picture

Thanks for the question & comments, above. Do you have a Career Management Document (CMD)? If not, work on building one. According to MT/CT guidance, apply to any job that you match 75% of the skills for in the job description.

Consider these steps: create/update you CMD. Second, update your resume. Third, warm up your network. Fourth, send out resumes & work on getting an interview (that is the point of a resume). Point of an interview? Get an offer.  All much easier said then done. Keep referencing the resources in the 'casts. It works if you work it. That's my two cents. Take what you like & leave the rest. Good luck! 

"Jobs are not rare diamonds. They are second hand cars. Be a smart consumer."