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As students, workers, and human beings, we are the sum of our experiences and learning. To use a simple example: would you do as well as a student in a Grade 4 class if you did not take Grades 1 to 3 beforehand? Someone who is super smart might be fine, but the vast majority of us would struggle to keep up and probably end up flunking out. As we progress through school, we learn fundamentals that prepare us to do well with the learning presented at the next grade level.

This is also applicable for how we do in the working world. What you learn in one position can both directly and indirectly prepare you for the next position you tackle. Training is a way of preparing someone to directly assume the responsibilities of their particular job. However, there may be aspects of your previous work history that prepared you to breeze through some aspects of this training. The reason? You did something similar in your second job and remember those abilities you learned back then.

Transferable Skills

The official vocational term for this is transferable skills. These are abilities you have acquired either in life or through other employment opportunities. Such skills add to your desirability for prospective employers because you already know how to do things, which saves on training time and money.

Here are a few transferable skills that employers value:

  • Calculating numbers
  • Operating equipment
  • Dependability (punctuality, meeting deadlines)
  • Troubleshooting
  • Time management
  • Resourcefulness
  • Understanding instructions
  • Ability to supervise
  • Ability to work well in groups
  • Ability to work well independently and unsupervised
  • Ability to motivate
  • Ability to problem solve
  • Ability to negotiate
  • Ability to delegate
  • Ability to assemble things
  • Research skills
  • Computer skills
  • Willingness to accept responsibility
  • Demonstrated ability as a self-starter

The skills may not relate 100% to what your new employer requires, but the fact that you were able to do these successfully in an earlier position means a lot. Direct experience is not always the deciding factor when an employer chooses a candidate. It doesn’t matter whether you got the skills from your first job at Taco Bell or a lengthy term in an executive suite at Imperial Oil: all of the skills we gain are important and we build upon them.

Interpersonal Skills

These abilities can also fall under the umbrella heading of transferable skills, but are among the most significant assets you can have as a worker moving forward. How we conduct ourselves as both people and employees can be crucial.

The customer service industry relies on its employees to have particularly good skills when dealing with public. This includes their ability to speak clearly, listening effectively, and maintain their composure when dealing with disagreeable people.

That professionalism applies in other vocations as well. How we interact with each other on the job not only affects how we get along, but can also have a definite consequence on worker efficiency and output. The way a company representative deals with someone from another firm can make or break the organizations’ relationship.

It is common for people to look back with embarrassment on some of their early jobs, but you should never do this. Even the most beginner-level of positions can provide valuable learning experiences that stay with us as we ascend the employment ladder. The worst day in your life as a McDonald’s counter person can have a surprisingly profound influence on how you approach customer relations going forward, making you both a better employee and a better person.