Workers with strong transferable skills, combined with a confident, flexible mindset, are the most resilient according to Deloitte’s latest report in their ‘Power Up’ series. So how do you acquire these in-demand skills and use them to navigate the new and ever changing world of work? Deloitte Consultant Ale Rebon Portillo, who has enjoyed a varied and interesting career path, shares his insights.
A fashion adviser. A Catholic seminarian (trainee priest). An electronic engineer. And a software consultant.
You might think that all of these roles have little in common. However, they are all jobs I have done along my rather unconventional career path. While I admit that on the surface there seems to be a disconnect between this eclectic range of roles, look at the skills required for each job and you will discover they all share some of the most sought-after transferable skills – the ones we all need if we are to future-proof our career.
I am not alone in finding that ‘human’ skills can help you to navigate the new world of work.
According to the Deloitte Power Up report individuals with strong transferable skills- such as analytical, communication and strategic skills - are the most resilient to automation and to economic shocks.
Resilient not redundant
So how do you draw on experience gained in roles to build a highly desirable set of transferable skills? It is often easier to learn by example. Here is my story.
After I graduated from a Venezuelan university with a degree in electronic engineering, I got a job as an electronic engineer at a firm that serviced large petroleum companies. Circumstances then led me to join a seminary to train as a Catholic priest. Although this may seem a strange transition, my engineering job provided me with strong analytical skills and enabled me to approach the new role in a logical and pragmatic way. The complex nature of my engineering experience also helped with my understanding of philosophy and theology.
During my time at the seminary I was encouraged to become more self-aware and helped to counsel individuals in a number of different countries. This helped me to develop interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, as well as a proven ability to learn and adapt. I then spent some time working in a completely different environment as a fashion adviser, where I applied my skills in a more creative context, before joining Deloitte.
Become a lifelong learner
All my career moves have been driven by my life’s circumstances. For example, I left the fashion world for IT so I could be close to family. So my choices were often pragmatic but also driven by a curiosity to learn, taking new paths that interested me. This, in turn, has made me more confident and adaptable.
So I would encourage anyone to welcome change and to see an opportunity to acquire new skills that will make them more competitive in today’s market, and that will prepare them for a richer and fuller life.
However, it is not only the soft or “human” skills that are transferable. Technological skills are also ubiquitous. When I decided to leave fashion for IT, I read about software testing, did online courses, got my ISTQB certification before applying for my first job as a software testing consultant. It is very easy to learn almost any subject thanks to the massive amount of information available… so make the most of it.
I joined Deloitte as a consultant in the software testing division and I believe that the hiring team had a positive view of my eclectic job history, and particularly the mix of analytical, communication and strategic skills they required. Obviously my technical experience in computing is an advantage, but the social skills I developed from my counselling training are also very useful. Working with clients requires emotional intelligence. However, my varied career path also means I am very adaptable and can get stuck into any task that is given to me.
As my story shows, the underlying skills you develop as you navigate your career can be applicable to a wide range of professions. And who knows where they will take me next!