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Transferable Skills

12th August 2022

In recruitment, we talk a lot about “transferable skills” – those abilities and competencies that employees acquire in one line of work which are also useful in another. Teamwork is a classic example; so, too, is basic IT literacy. Having these skills makes a candidate desirable across more than one job role, company – even sector.

Let’s pause on that last word a little. Very often, recruiters like DMA specialise in specific parts of the economy, and in particular industries. There’s an extremely good reason for this: specialist companies are exactly that. They have often unique requirements that proceed from the very precise needs, goals and frameworks of their industry. Recruiters need to understand these to do their job well.

At DMA, for example, we specialise in waste management, logistics and fleet, and construction. These aligned sectors, and the companies that work within them, require specialist knowledge to be applied if they are to source the best candidates: industry-specific qualifications, knowledge and experience are all necessary in any individual looking to fill a role in these areas. And a good recruiter can spot them.

All that said, there is much to be said for the “transferable candidate”: an individual entering a new sector from another industry, who may not bring intimate knowledge of a company’s immediate operating environment … but may be able to offer something else.

What might this “transferable candidate” bring that a more traditional one may not? Much will depend on the role: customer services roles or senior leadership positions, for example, may well benefit from the sorts of skills developed elsewhere, from management to social skills, teamwork expertise or board-level experience.

Furthermore, “transferable candidates” bring a freshness of perspective. Their broader experience can open up new avenues and under-explored directions, offering new ways of seeing old problems – and potentially finding effective solutions that may otherwise have gone unimplemented. Working in silos isn’t always beneficial – sometimes we all need to look further afield, and for that we often need a guide.

At DMA, we are serious advocates for specialisation – we understand that our clients work with us because we know how to get the best results for them, by focusing exactly on what they do, and the sector in which they do it. Generalised, “off-the-shelf” recruitment doesn’t work.

The “transferable candidate”, though, is a good example of how understanding both our clients and their sector can sometimes result in profitably counter-intuitive shortlisting: knowing them so well, and thinking creatively, we’re often able to spot not just the same-old-same-old, but the fresh new experience that a company may need in a given role at a given time.

It’s not always true that CVs all need to look the same! Take a look at a wild card every now and then.