By Sue Mehana
Apart from your first email address, most people’s first job would be pretty embarrassing to publicly admit. Well, at least on your resume or in an important graduate-level job interview.
As I came to the end of my Bachelor degree, I found myself dreading the idea of applying for graduate positions in the ‘real world’, as though my previous retail experiences were a fairy tale (What, no… I don’t have haunting, traumatic experiences). I was afraid I had nothing to offer in terms of work experience – it was all just retail work after all. What I failed to understand, however, is that I had gained a bunch of TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS. Transferrable skills are a set of wonderful and magical abilities you could have gained from a previous job, which may not be specific to your chosen career path. But these skills, you can take with you wherever you go!
One set of skills you are sure to have if you have worked in any kind of customer service role (especially retail) are interpersonal skills. These can range from communication skills to assertiveness and people skills. Because in retail there are PEOPLE. You have likely dealt with all kinds of people in the form of customers (the very best kind). You therefore have built up the ability to communicate effectively, efficiently and clearly so as to diffuse many problems. Hey, there you go! You have also developed problem-solving skills, you champion.
Time Management skills
Having to serve a customer, answer the phone, greeting a new customer who walked in with only your eyes and a smile, while signing off for a delivery… yep, that’s just another day working as a retail assistant. While the tasks in your future career path may not mirror these, the skill of managing your time effectively to be able to meet deadlines is priceless and will be highly sought after by your future employer!
It is more than likely you have been part of a team environment in your previous job. This team may not have always been the best, but just like in any other workplace, you can’t choose who you work with. Sadly, we’re not back in school, where you’d give your best friend ‘the look’ and that meant you were definitely partners for this assignment! At work, the important thing is to make the best of what you have and work on your relationship with your teammates. This is an invaluable skill to have for the future, because with teamwork, when it’s good, it’s GREAT!
To learn more about how to best utilise and communicate your transferable skills, visit the UTS:Careers and have a chat with one of the lovely Recruitment Advisors who so kindly shed light on this delightful advantage of previous work experience. I mean, you don’t even need an appointment – just Drop-in!
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.