It is becoming more and more common to fill a diversity of positions throughout one’s career, which begs the question of the importance of individual competencies. In order to successfully carry out two or more roles with potentially contrasting responsibilities, workers can sometimes rely on a set of soft and hard skills that are common to both jobs. These are what we call “transferable skills” and are particularly useful in building bridges between different professions. But how do you identify transferable skills?
For example, if a former school teacher changes jobs and becomes a customer relationship manager, their teaching abilities and communication skills will prove to be precious assets for developing strong business relationships.
Transferable skills are also valuable for hopping from a position with weakening prospects to a position considered on the rise. These skills are first and foremost an asset for whoever is looking to change career paths, but companies also see potential in transferable skills from the point of view of internal mobility.
Why focus your internal mobility strategy on reskilling?
Hiring new employees is an expensive endeavour, which is why businesses are sometimes more drawn to the idea of calling on current employees, whose strengths and opportunities for improvement they are familiar with.
The key is to identify skills developed during the person’s previous role which can be transferred and applied to other roles. That’s exactly what the main challenge with reskilling is about.
How do you identify transferable skills?
Companies can more easily identify transferable skills among their own employees, especially where companies operate an effective skills and career management strategy or an efficient talent management system. In carrying out regular and detailed follow-ups in relation to all employees, companies gain increased visibility with regard to each person’s concrete responsibilities and skills. As such, businesses are able to better detect transferable skills from one position to another.
Instruments for identifying transferable skills
Several methods and tools can help Human Resources keep track of which skills are considered to be essential, optional, or declining for each position within the company. These techniques and tools include:
- Internal career follow-ups: being aware of an employee’s growth within the company provides an indication as to the skills they possess and have acquired during their employment at the company.
- Up-to-date job descriptions which connect actual responsibilities of the position and the skills required.
- One-to-one conversations with employees to identify the skills they use in carrying out their responsibilities, as well as those which they seldom or never have a chance to use.
- Conversations with managers on employee responsibilities and skills, in order to obtain a third-party opinion (supervisor, for example).
- Skills assessments to draw up a detailed overview of the employee’s skills. These assessments are equally useful for identifying skills with potential for development in the case of internal mobility.
Who should be in charge of identifying transferable skills?
Employees and managers aren’t always best placed to conduct this type of analysis. On the one hand, employees aren’t necessarily capable of pinpointing which skills they may have developed during their time in a specific role.
As for managers, are they really in a position to confirm which skills the employee actually uses, and also identify other strings to their bow which they don’t use in their current position? Not easily…
Plus, positions tend to evolve the longer employees occupy their functions. And the longer employees stay on in a position, the more likely they are to begin to stand out in specific fields for which they hadn’t initially been recruited.
So the best thing to do is to leave HR professionals in charge of identifying existing skills.
This may involve conducting targeted interviews or skills assessments for better results. For cases requiring a more in-depth analysis, HR teams may want to resort to the services of an external coach. And in the case of technical, specific, or manual skills, the analysis shall be conducted by a competent third party.
Next, the skills identified need to be sorted and compared against the company’s actual business needs. This step provides an opportunity to identify which skills may be transferred to other job types – and this can lead to some quite unexpected matches.
Optimise reskilling through training
Once transferable skills have been identified, they need to be “transferred” in an efficient way. One specific skill may indeed apply to several job families, but skill implementation may differ.
And this is where express training comes in. The aim here is to help the employee come to grips with their new job and responsibilities, and the skills they’ll need in order to perform. It will also allow the employee to soak in the techniques and specificities that underpin the job.
Express training offers a rapid operations-centred learning process for a given job type.
Once in their new position, the employee will need to take ownership of the new role so they can manage by themselves as soon as possible. In the banking sector, where a revolution is underway with the advent of digitisation and fintechs, French corporate and investment bank Natixis has taken the lead and introduced an upskilling and reskilling programme called the Step Up Academy.
All employees who have taken the training offered by Natixis were immediately given a new role in digital transformation.
Some reskilling programmes offer training and onboarding at the same time in order to combine theory and practice.