transferable skillsDid you ever think that waitressing job you had in college would help you with something more than just making some money for a living back then? If you did, it’s good for you. Many of us don’t necessarily want to recall their temporary jobs from when they were basically kids or teenagers. But truth is those jobs we had did help us gain something more than just a few dollars. They helped us develop transferable skills.

What exactly are transferable skills? When talking about transferable skills we refer to skills that are being gained thanks to a specific job or occupation, which can be taken from that particular job and transferred to another job/occupation. As defined on Wikipedia, “transferable skills are determined by analyzing past accomplishments or experience”.  The transferable skill analysis is a “set of tests or logic to determine what positions a person may fill in if their previous position no longer exists or they can no longer perform their last position”.

That’s the part where the waitressing job comes in. You wonder what cleaning tables, delivering food and filling up sauce trays have to do with being a better professional? Although it may not be visible on the first glance, there are more similarities between the 2 occupations than thought of.

Being involved in a waitressing job teaches you valuable skills like:

time management (you have to carefully juggle between taking orders, serving the food and drinks, bussing the tables and equally taking care of all customers from the tables in your section)
being organized (handling several tables, customers and orders at once absolutely requires to be organized, otherwise you end up in a complete tip-less chaos)
crisis management (knowing what to do when the food order got burnt, you are out of side dishes and the other waiters are fighting and blaming each other for the disaster in the kitchen, that means keeping a clear head and being a crisis-hero)
communication (each type of customer requires a different communication approach, depending on their personality; some of them can’t decide upon what they want to eat, others don’t like the taste of what they’ve ordered and some of your customers can’t be pleased no matter what you do – thus you need to know how to talk to each one of them)
team work (you’re not the only waiter in a restaurant, hence you need to learn to collaborate with your colleagues and help them do their job, especially when the restaurant is crowded and the business could suffer if some of the waiters take too long)
customer service (it’s a must to know how to treat a customer and how you can please a dissatisfied one, so that the business doesn’t have to suffer)
teaching skills (when new colleagues are hired, you may be responsible of training and preparing them properly for doing their job)
result orientation (after all, tips are kind of an indicator for ROI for your performance).

This above list sampling a few skills you gain when waitressing can be continued with several other skills. As you can see, these can easily fit into a business environment and are, moreover, essential skills for that type of environment.

The mentioned transferable skills are, of course, not to be gained only through waitressing, but also through other occupations, hobbies and jobs. For example, being a freelancer or a stay-at-home mom, who works all by themself teaches you important things like task coordination, management, handling the finances, marketing and promotion.

Hence, next time when you look for a job or seek to change your occupation, make an inventory of everything you know and everything you can do. And I mean, literally, everything. Afterwards you can select and highlight all those skills that you consider relevant for the position you are applying. In order to have a better idea on the various types of transferable skills, you can consult this list.

Another thing you can do is some research on your own to see what other transferable skills are out there and who you are competing with. For example, run an online survey to find out what general skills people mostly value, what past occupations others held and so on. This will help you write down your final list of transferable skills which can then be converted into a tailored CV.

Remember, any job, hobby or occupation can teach you something you’ll be able to use at a certain point.

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