A Reader Writes:
I want to get a new job, but I’m unsure how the skills I have will transfer to another position. How do I make myself marketable? I have past experience in a/p, a/r , collections, and as a dispute coordinator. With that being said, I’m not sure where this experience would be an asset because my actual accounting experience was years ago. Should I see a career counselor or a headhunter? Also, since I don’t have extensive Microsoft skills, would it be a good idea to use the tutorials available? How would I put it on my résumé?
Update: I also found out that by going through EAP, I can initially go see a career counselor and not pay anything!
Well, the good thing about administrative work (Yep, it’s administrative. Not a bad thing. So is my job.) is that there are always transferable skills. It sounds like you may have a rough idea of what you’d like to do based on past experience, so the first thing is to run a search on Indeed, Google, and LinkedIn for job titles that correspond to the type of work you want. Then from those job descriptions you should make a list of the common qualifications. There are certain words or phrases that will be consistent from job description to job description. Once you’ve done that, sit down and figure out what you’ve already done that even loosely relates to the common qualifications. Then as you start applying to jobs, you just tailor your résumé with the appropriate examples from your work experience. Be creative, but don’t lie. Like ever.
You might also find that you want to do something completely different after you realize what’s expected. That’s where a career counselor may come in handy. More on that below.
As for Microsoft skills, you can go through the tutorials, but employers are usually looking for people that have applied the skills in a professional setting. You should see if your current role can be expanded at all so that you can get those skills into your job specific bullet points on your résumé. If you’re thinking accounting, you have to find ways to use Excel at least at an intermediate level. That will be clutch.
Staffing firms are helpful, since they see a lot of these roles and can tell you what their clients are looking for. That will help you to further tailor your résumé, and in some cases they’ll even do it for you based on how you describe your experience to them. The catch is they’ll only do that if they have a position they want to submit your application to. Remember, their job is to present candidates that have all the desired experience, not folks that only have bits and pieces. You should develop relations with three to four firms specializing in the field you’re trying to break into.
As for career counselors, if you’re trying to determine a path, they’re worth looking into. You may be able to schedule an introductory call or meeting for free, but there will (usually) be a price tag afterward. It sounds like you’ve found free access through your company’s Employee Assistance Program, so hopefully that yields solid long term results! Good luck!