Do you ever tell yourself that you have been working in the aviation industry way too long . . . and that there is no way that you would be able to adapt anywhere else . . . that is all you know . . . All you have ever known . . . Well, you are wrong! It is a matter of perception and mindset.
The term 'transferable skills' can also be referred to as 'portable skills' and refers to qualities that can be used in a job and adapted to be used in a different job.
A good example is 'good communicator' . Being a good communicator is a skill, or a quality, that will be sought-after in a customer service environment such as the airport terminals. It will also be very advantageous in the context of hospitality, such as hotel receptions or in the banking front of house or even the all-encompassing tele-customer services. In reality, it is almost limitless.
The aviation industry is indeed quite specific, but instead of viewing it as restrictive, you should see it as very enriching and advantageous. It shapes your skills like no other industry . . . Indeed, aeroplanes don’t often wait for you; so time management is essential . . . working under pressure is a daily occurrence . . . the list goes on…
So now that you have a few examples, can you think of any more transferable skills you may possess and where else they could be applied? Here is a list to help you think about it and maybe help shift your perception:
Dependability. Can you be trusted? Are you punctual and organised? Do you show initiative? Will you take on a responsibility even if it is slightly outside your job description? If so, then this is a very good quality that employers will value and appreciate. It is also a quality that will really help you stand out, adapt and learn quicker in a new role.
Teamwork: If you work in the aviation industry, chances are you are part of a team. However, that does not necessarily mean that you are a great team worker. Teamwork requires the ability to work with others in order to reach a common objective. It entails a multitude of skills such as empathy, active listening, excellent communication, etc. Thinking of practical examples of good teamwork will help you prepare for interviews.
Flexibility: Can you think of an environment which is more fluid and shifting than the aviation industry? Years of working in aviation probably means you have had your fair share of changes throughout your career. One thing you have most likely been able to do is to adapt and survive. Now this shows some flexibility doesn’t it?
Problem solving: Once again, working in the aviation industry often means that things don’t go according to plan. And when last minute changes occur, you have two options: run away in panic or find a solution to the problem. When you read 'problem solving' as a skill, it may conjure the image of a Machiavelli strategic chess playing genius . . . and you may shy away from attributing this skill to your own skillset . . . but don’t be intimated. Every little example you can remember matters, as it shows your 'outside the box' thinking.
Here is a very simple example to illustrate this very important skill: a group of check-in agents were often complaining about the fact that they had to carry heavy carpets, TensaBarriers and all sorts of check-in labels from the stockroom to the designated check-in area, three times a day. Not only was it heavy, it was also time consuming. A member of that team decided to be pro-active and suggested that the company purchases a trolley that would be big enough to store all the needed equipment. This simple solution was adopted and made a huge difference to the whole team.
Multi-tasking: Now is not the time to start the old debate . . . I believe that men are completely capable of multitasking just as well as women. This is a transferable skill that simply means what it says. You have probably been in a situation where you have had to juggle a few balls at the same time. Once again, no matter how small or insignificant you think your example is, it still illustrates an important and wanted skill.
The list could go on and on . . . The aim here is to get you thinking about other skills you could apply . . . When thinking about all these transferable skills, apply them to your professional life, but don’t forget to think of them in terms of your personal everyday life. In reality, we are all a CEO of some sort . . . we make decisions about whether or not to buy a house, what shopping to get (weekly or monthly?), what new car to get (to buy or to lease? ), where to go on holiday, what budget for a kitchen makeover? . . . In essence, this is all the same . . .