The 8 transferable skills that will land you a career in support work
Chances are you’ve already trained as a support worker–you just didn’t know it.
Wait… when did that happen?
Well, if you’ve done a job–any job, especially if you’ve dealt with customers–you’ve almost certainly picked up some tasty skills that will make employers want you. We call them transferable skills. Here’s how to use them to start a career in support work.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are skills you can, well, transfer. Skills like communication and problem-solving. The kind of skills you learn in every job or job-like experience (we’re talking internships, apprenticeships, freelancing, volunteering…) and can use in every other job.
That’s why transferable skills are so attractive to employers–and why they can help you grow your career. When you take the skills you’ve learned and transfer them to new challenges, you’re showing employers your versatility and adaptability (by the way, those are transferable skills too!)
That means there’s no need to be put off by job descriptions that come with a long list of skills the company wants. You might not have all of them–but your transferable skills might be similar enough to make you a great candidate.
If you’re interested in making a career switch to support work, your transferable skills will help you. Here, we’ll show you how to call attention to them in your CV, application forms, and interviews.
Which transferable skills will help you land a job as a support worker?
1. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is your ability to identify and manage your own emotions–and other people’s. If you’ve had any customer-facing role, we’re sure you’ve had experience with other people’s emotions, and you’ve probably used emotional intelligence to deal with them.
For example, if a client is upset/frustrated, you might use your emotional intelligence to be patient with them, understand where they’re coming from, and de-escalate the situation.
Employers love people who can solve problems. And in support work, where no day is like the one before, being able to assess a new situation and calmly come up with a solution will help you to thrive.
82% of employers look for problem-solving skills on a CV, according to a NACE survey. So make sure you put yours in the “skills” section of your CV, describe situations where you used those skills in your cover letter, and be ready to give more examples when you get that interview.
Good communication means being able to speak calmly and clearly, write in a way that’s easy to understand (how are we doing?) and listen actively. It helps you understand clients’ needs, give information or comfort, and ask colleagues for help.
In a customer service role, you’re constantly practising your communication skills, so you’ve already developed one of the top traits of a great support worker. As well as giving examples, remember to show your communication skills in interviews by speaking confidently, listening actively, and being friendly.
Collaboration, aka “teamwork”, is vital in any role, and it’s something you learn in any role. Any time two people work together towards a common goal, they’re practising collaboration.
This is employers’ second favourite skill (according to NACE again), so think of examples to demonstrate how you’ve used it. As well as working with colleagues, you might have collaborated with a customer to solve a problem (that’s two transferable skills in one).
This is so important in support work (the clue is in the name!) Being able to relate to someone else’s feelings and perspective can help you communicate with them and meet their needs. You can use empathy to understand why a client is upset, to reassure them and to treat them how you’d like to be treated yourself. If you’ve had experience in a customer-facing role, you’ve most probably demonstrated empathy already.
We’ve touched on this already, but it is worth digging a little deeper into this important transferable skill. Adaptability means being able to accommodate different people, changing needs, and new situations. It means being willing to change your communication style, adjust to people’s different moods, switch tasks, expect the unexpected, and try new things to find a solution.
Dependability is about doing what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it–making people feel secure that they can rely on you. If you’ve done any job, you’ve started learning to show dependability to your colleagues, your boss, and your customers or clients.
This is another one you’ll definitely have practised if you’ve had any customer-facing job.
Patience means being able to handle any interactions at work calmly and respectfully. Maybe you’ve needed to repeat information to make sure a customer understood, wait on them to give you information so you could help them, or spend ages answering all their questions. Demonstrating that you have patience will make you attractive to any employer who’s looking for a great support worker.
How to show off your transferable skills in interviews
Congrats–you’ve got an interview for a support worker role! Now you just need to tell compelling stories about all those times when you used your transferable skills… simple, right?
Luckily, there’s a simple method you can use to spin a great story every time an interviewer says “tell me about a time when…” It’s called the STAR technique:
⭐ Situation – Where did it happen?
⭐ Task – What did you want to achieve?
⭐ Action – What action did you take?
⭐ Result – What was the outcome?
We’ve written you a whole article about it here: Shine bright with the STAR interview technique
Oh, and we forgot to mention one other important way to make employers want you and your shiny transferable skills.
A way to identify everything employers will love about you, find out how to present yourself to them in the best possible light, and get expert support every step of the way to your first support worker role.
It’s simple… get in touch with your friendly neighbourhood housing recruitment agency for a chat!