Abi Simmons, Head of Media at IEMA, explains how skills and experiences gained in your community or as a volunteer, could prove of huge value in your professional life.
There’s a well-known phrase; ‘if you want something doing, get a busy person to do it’.
I’ve had a varied career and often tried to keep my work and home life separate, something which became less possible during the pandemic. As work life morphed into home life, our transferrable skills became even more apparent. Whatever your views on juggling, or ‘multitasking,’ it was something we all had to do during the pandemic, and whether it actually works or not, it’s certainly a skill. Work, shop, source, create, exercise, entertain pets, children, goldfish, or relatives, much of it done online. It was a mammoth task and I for one don’t miss it, but it does make you realise just how many unsourced, untapped transferrable skills we were using.
What if some of those things you do in your spare time actually are transferrable skills? I have to add a note here that I really did have spare time 12 years ago; iPhones (other smart phones are available) were in their infancy, so online distractions and social media weren’t as prominent as they are now. We didn’t have WhatsApp groups, so relied on badgering people at the school gate or on the school run to entice them into the next fundraiser. It’s much harder, in my experience, to come up with a reason to say no face-to-face, than in a message when you’ve had time to think, or even, no time to answer.
I’ve found that women tend to downplay their skills, especially when it’s volunteering – because that’s what fundraising for a school or charity involves. It isn’t about bragging, but simply reflecting what you have done, are doing, or can do, all in your own, usually very stretched, time. So, for example, for a good few years, I organised and sold Christmas trees to raise money for my children’s primary school. I worked out profit margins and affordability, organised delivery, and persuaded people to get out of their beds at 7am on a Saturday to unload them from the lorry. This required excellent organisation skills, as well as persuasion and sales skills. I patiently explained to one complainant that the reason the trees were muddy was that they were fresh out of the ground!
Making a large profit for a school, enabling enrichment opportunities, or dealing with 35 noisy cubs on a 5K walk in the dark are certainly transferrable skills, possibly survival skills, and definitely target-hitting skills. It’s a transferrable skill to develop a robust strategy for tackling those not helping out with the bake sale – “I work!” came the cry of the harassed parent as they ran from the school gates to catch the train, “but I’ll send a donation”. Relationships and friendships are built, and teams are made, all through communication, as well as co-ordination, regulations, and timing.
The point of this blog is that at any stage of your career, you’re probably already using skills, or learning new ones, that you might brush off as irrelevant. Take a look at some of the things you’ve done or achieved outside of work, consider how they can be added as skills to your CV and be ready to talk about them. You never know, that bake sale might just help you get the job you really want!
This is a guest blog written by Abigail Simmons, for the Green Careers Hub.
Image credit: Shutterstock