From journalist to website copywriter, with PR in between

5th March 2021

How to identify transferable skills to develop an adaptive career.

I knew I wanted to be a journalist from an early age . . . well, I actually wanted to own Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, but I was only 12 years old and receiving £2 a week in pocket money, so that dream ended.

After gaining A-Levels in English and media studies, as well as City & Guilds qualifications in radio and print journalism, and politics, I went on to complete a journalism degree. My first reporter job was at a local newspaper – sadly, like many other local papers, it no longer exists now.

From there I gained a long-term work experience placement in the press office of a top flight football club – nowadays, this would be called an ‘internship’, but in 1998 these were still very much an American thing. From there I joined the sports desk for a national newspaper, before crossing over to marketing. I’ve focused purely on PR for the last 13 years, but now I do more website and content copywriting than I do PR.

Leaving one job and starting something completely different is nothing new, but with a totally changing world, it’s certain to become something that many people will consider. With employers not always just looking for specific industry experience, but more qualities or abilities, it’s vital to know what your transferable skills are. But how do you know?

Here are our top five tips on how to identify your crossover talents.

1. Pick apart your current job

If you work in customer service, customer service is not your skill. Think about what you have to be good at to be successful. For example, if you’re in contact with customers, then you need to be good at communicating. That’s the skill. And good communication skills are vital for a wide range of roles.

In your current role you may need to produce very technically focused reports. Here your skill might be that you are great at analysing data, or you may need to find a solution to something that went wrong. This probably means you’re good at problem-solving.

2. Consider skills learnt from previous successes

Think about successes that you have been involved with in your current and previous jobs and ask why the success happened and what you contributed. Did you ensure everyone stayed on track with tasks? If so, then you showed good leadership. Was a project a success because you and your colleagues worked together for a common goal? This shows you are great at working with a team.

3. Look for the skills in what you love to do

You do a hobby because you enjoy doing it and often we enjoy doing it because we are good at it, which means there are skills involved. Have you connected with other people who do the same hobby? Whether this is through social media or in person, could you do the same networking in a work environment?

No matter whether you enjoy building, painting, writing, or playing a sport, there is always some planning that needs to be done. Thinking about how you will do something, what could go wrong, and what equipment is needed are necessary skills for success as a project manager.

4. Ask other people

Although we probably know ourselves better than anyone else does, we don’t always see the obvious. You might find that your colleagues always ask you when they have a specific problem/question, or different friends may come to you when they want advice on the same subject; could this be because you are particularly good at something and you hadn’t realised?

Ask colleagues and friends what they think your talents are – they may surprise you.

5. Use a free online assessment

The National Careers Service provides an online skills assessment where, as well as discovering what your transferable skills are, you will get an idea of what interests and motivates you. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes to complete and at the end you will be given a list of potential careers that match your skills.

I took the assessment and it turns out that top of the list for me is the media industry, and in particular a copy editor – it seems that leaving Spurs in the hands of people who received more pocket money than me was the right choice!

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Sally Burfoot - Senior PR Manager

A highly knowledgeable PR expert with more than 20 years’ experience working in the media industry. Sally initially trained as a journalist and cut her teeth on both regional and national news desks before moving across to PR.

Over the years, she’s created numerous successful campaigns for clients including a global aviation company, the British Heart Foundation and shopping centres up and down the country.

Outside of work, you’ll find Sally either strolling along a beach or jumping up and down at a music gig.

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