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Key to Filling Critical Positions and Reducing Turnover

Hiring Candidates with Transferable Skills

We all know that during the Covid pandemic many people lost their jobs. And then after what we thought was the end of the pandemic, employers couldn’t find qualified workers. In fact, many in the hospitality industry could not even find warm bodies. Whether due to government incentives to stay home or simply wanting a change of work, filling vacancies became quite the challenge. Many previous hospitality workers have opted to not ever come back into the fold with their previous employer. Some have valid reasons and others simply want to begin a new career. Attracting new employees to your hospitality business today requires creative strategies. Some of those can be found here. But an often-overlooked tactic is to hire candidates with transferable skills.

What Are Transferable Skills?

The best candidates are those with the skills, talent, and knowledge to perform the job. But in addition, hiring workers with transferable skills—skills that a candidate possesses that can be used in different industries, jobs, and circumstances—can help put your workforce over the top.

Transferable skills are skills that belong to an employee. They take them wherever they go. It’s not something that you as an employer have to teach, (although it’s a great idea), but something instilled in the employee. It is those things they’ve learned through other jobs or through life experiences. Skills that are honed over time through working on challenging tasks and various projects.

For example, let’s say you’re in need of a head chef. You find one through a reputable recruiter, (like Gecko Hospitality :)). You later find out that this chef also has great team-building skills he’s learned over the years working for a variety of businesses. This is a transferable skill. And it is a wonderful bonus for you!

Types of Skills

The types of transferable skills vary. They may have been acquired through a university/educational setting or through working in multiple industries. For example, you may be hiring a manager for a casino and later find out that her transferable skills were attained through her early years as a construction manager. The good news is that you benefit from those skills she picked up along the way.

Some of the most valuable transferable skills today include:

  • Motivation

    Every employer wants self-starting employees. If you have to light a fire under them to get them moving, they don’t have the skill of motivation. Motivated employees are usually engaged employees. A 2018 Gallup Survey found that, “Those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21 percent higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.”

  • Problem-solving

    This is a a universal job skill that applies to any position and in every industry. While every employee is tasked with some form of problem-solving in their workplace, not all of them are good at it. Candidates with critical thinking skills who can come up with solutions quickly are invaluable. This is one of those transferable skills that can be tweaked and customized for your work environment. Employees with this skill learn new systems faster than others. They quickly grasp what is needed to be successful.

  • Communication

    Good communication skills are essential in any business. Employees with good written and verbal skills can better convey ideas, relate to others and solve problems effectively. A Forbes article found that hiring managers and executives consistently rank good communication as one of the most important skills for employees to have. This transferable skill helps to mitigate conflicts, provide better customer service, build good team relationships, and relay creative ideas.

  • Teamwork

    The transferable skill of being a good team player isn’t just about getting along with others, but also about the ability to contribute to the role of team member. A recent Harvard Business Review article found that in workplaces where employees had to share responsibility for specific products and services, managers reported increased productivity levels and better quality of products and services. The reliance on one another to do their work increases financial performance and makes employees feel more committed to the organization.

  • Management

    Having good management skills will encompass all of the above. But candidates with the transferable skill of management also includes using emotional intelligence with others. As noted in a recent Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) article, it is, “having the self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy and social skills needed to behave in a mature, wise, empathetic way with the people around you.”

  • Creativity

    One of the benefits of hiring candidates with the skill of creativity is that you are getting creative thinkers who can think outside the box and suggest better solutions. They bring a fresh perspective with a view from the outside looking in. They are not biased by “the way we’ve always done it,” but offer constructive suggestions and advice for improving processes and systems.

  • Leadership

    This skill doesn’t just mean supervising others, but could also include taking the lead on a project. People with leadership qualities tend to fix what needs fixing without oversight or permission. They have a take-charge attitude for the benefit of the team and organization and not for the sake of their own ego inflation.

  • Adaptability

    Covid showed us all things can change overnight. An employee with the transferable skill of adaptability accepts change as a matter of course and adjusts as necessary. The candidate with adaptability pivots when required whether there is a change in product, service, or market.

Transferable Skills vs. Direct Experience

There are obviously more transferable skills that candidates bring to your business. Some employees may be more tech savvy and can provide insight and guidance for moving your organization forward. Others might speak other languages that prove useful in your business environment. Still others bring transferable skills of negotiating, interviewing, writing, and accounting.

All of these are valuable to you in some way. For most employers, transferable skills are recognized as more than just past job experiences. Transferable skills can be hard skills, which are easy to quantify, and soft skills like time management. Unfortunately, many job seekers don’t know what their transferable skills are. A recent survey by LiveCareer found that 57 percent (21.1 million) aren’t sure how to include transferable skills on their resume.

Finding Candidates with Good Transferable Skills

Finding candidates with the transferable skills you’re looking for can be a challenge. The best way is through referral from current employees who know the person, but that option can only produce so many good candidates. A more direct approach is to use a recruiter qualified in screening and vetting candidates customized for your organization.

Bringing on board employees with both experience and some good transferable skills will help you reduce turnover while increasing productivity. Employees are happiest and engaged when they can use the skills they’ve developed through life experiences. Seeking, recruiting and keeping these employees will propel your business to even greater success.


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