How to transfer your existing skills as a contractor to suit another industry
As the ‘new normal’ becomes, well, normal, opportunities for contractors are beginning to come to the fore once again. This means that, for the self-employed, it’s a great time to start actively looking for work again. However, the pandemic means that there are a lot of contractors out there, all looking for new roles – and this makes for a highly competitive market.
So, what are the top ways to win work without having to negotiate your fee all the way down? Our top tips are:
- Reach out to existing clients and recruiters
- Update your branding and invest in marketing
- Don’t underestimate the power of networking
- Have insurances ready to go
- Look at ways you can transfer your skills outside of your usual industry
It’s this last point that we want to focus on here. We know from experience that, for a lot of contractors, the idea of moving outside their preferred industry can turn their legs to jelly. If this sounds like you, don’t panic. We’re going to show you how this is easier than you think.
How can I transfer my skills from one industry to another?
It might seem like an impossible task. For instance, you might be a Project Manager in the energy sector whose been approached by a recruiter about a Project Management role in banking.
Your instant reaction is to dismiss it because you deal in wind farms, not finance. But think about it: a Project Manager does pretty much the same basic things no matter the industry they’re in. It’s just a matter of opening your eyes to how your skills translate across the divide. But how to do this?
Identify your skills
First of all, you should identify what your skills are, although this should be pretty straightforward. Include both hard skills (IT skills, knowledge of particular programs, foreign languages, professional qualifications and any other quantifiable skills) and soft skills (people skills, leadership, problem-solving, motivation, and other more subjective skills). Get them all listed and remember that no skill is too small.
Research your target industry
Researching the industry you are looking to move to predominantly involves finding out what its needs are. You can even narrow this down to the needs of the particular organisation you are looking to work with. What are they trying to achieve? How would your role fit into that?
Join the dots
Now take your two lists and look at how your skills could help your target industry achieve its goals. You’ll quickly start to see connections between the two which can help you formulate your proposal. If you see gaps in your skills, it will also tell you how you need to focus your efforts to improve your chances.
How to communicate your skills transfer to new clients
You need to make a case for your transfer of skills and not just assume a potential client will make the connection. After all, you’ll be competing with other contractors who may have already worked in that industry before.
For this reason, you don’t want to keep flagging to a client that your experience is mostly in another industry. So, reword your CV and any proposals to focus on the role and the skills, rather than the industry itself. This means:
- Taking out industry-specific jargon
- Changing industry-specific examples into role-specific examples
- Highlighting how you can bring these skills to the new industry
If, for instance, you worked on an NHS IT project that created an improved appointment-booking system to streamline the flow of patients through the day in order to better use the time of clinicians, you could change this to say something along the lines of: “Led an IT project that created an improved booking system to streamline client-flow through the day to enable better time-management.” It says all the essentials, while not giving your future-client the opportunity to see it strictly as a healthcare project.
In your proposal, show off your research of the industry or organisation and show that you understand their needs. It’s about telling the potential client that even though you haven’t worked in that industry before, you still can work in that industry and, what’s more, you understand it and can be of value to it.
While we can’t help you go through all your skills and ensure they’re nicely transferable, we can help give you the edge over other candidates by assisting you in making sure you have all your insurance ducks in a row.
Our contractor insurance package gives you all the business insurance essentials in one fell swoop, and we also offer a variety of additional insurances.
Call us on 01242 808740 to discuss your requirements and work out the contractor insurance products that are right for you.