Discover the power of transferable skills with our guest, Asha Aravindakshan, an accomplished author, speaker, and tech executive. Asha, the creative mind behind the book "Skills: The common denominator", navigates us through her inspiring career journey. From her first job to her current leadership role, she shares her unique experiences. She enlightens us on how recognizing and applying transferable skills can lead to achievable career transformations. Asha's story will inspire you to journey fearlessly toward your own career metamorphosis.
We expand the conversation into the indispensable role of transferable skills in reshaping hiring dynamics. Deviating from the traditional hiring mindset, we address the need for employers to identify and appreciate these skills while recruiting. Asha provides invaluable advice on crafting compelling cover letters that highlight your unique skills, and how to utilize skill-based networking to expand your horizons. We also explore the idea of taking on job roles even when your skills don't match all the requirements.
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Hello and welcome to the Career Changers podcast. I'm Elisa Martiniig and I'm the founder and editor-in-chief of the Career Changers. I'm definitely one of them. I learned from my experience that following our dreams requires courage, self-awareness and a lot of inner work. I love to discover stories of career change and share them with the world as a source of inspiration for all those who are still searching. Career changes are not straightforward chronology written in our CVs, but the sum-up of our dreams, ambitions, failures and successes. The Career Changers is an online community that aims to inspire thousands of people during their journey to self-realization. We discover and share inspirational real-life stories of career change. We inspire people that are thinking to change career. We support people that want or need to change career but feel stuck or lacking confidence and clarity. We connect and collaborate with organizations that support career change across different industries. I believe that thinking to have only one job or career in our life is a limiting belief unless the job or that career make us happy. Life is a journey and we one-third of our lives spent working. It would be unimaginable to not have a desire to explore new avenues. Welcome to the Career Changers podcast. Hello and welcome to a new episode of the Career Changers. Our guest today is Asha Aravin Dakshan, author of Skills, the common denominator speaker and tech executive. Today, she is here to inspire you with her career journey and discuss the power of transferable skills. Whether you are an employee looking to change career or an employer looking for new talents, we will discuss how to identify your transferable skills, how to use skill-based networking to change careers if you are hiring, how to develop an open mindset on skills. Hi Asha, thank you so much for joining us.Speaker 2:
Elisa, thank you so much for having me.Speaker 1:
That's great. So let's start with your background. How did you start your professional life? Or better, what was your first job?Speaker 2:
Oh, you're taking me back to the first job, okay. Well, I really think about my first work experiences. They were in high school. I actually volunteered at the New York Aquarium and then later in high school, I worked at a publishing company. After college, my first full-time role was in a nonprofit where I'd already been interning for two years, so that became my first full-time job. Kind of looking back, it's like I had so many different career transitions.Speaker 1:
What was your dream job when you were a child?Speaker 2:
Oh gosh, when I was a child, I think I had a lot of dreams as far as what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a detective because I loved solving problems. I wanted to be president because I thought that was the coolest job in the world overseeing the country and politics. I wanted to be a lawyer because I love the logical nature of how lawyers think. So I think different times of my life. As a child I wanted to be different things.Speaker 1:
So what did you decide to study then? What is your educational background?Speaker 2:
That's a great segue. So actually in high school I had the opportunity to take business courses in accounting and business law and it just clicked for me that's what I wanted to do, and so I then went to college. I went to study business, I concentrated in finance and the funny part is I have used most parts of my degree, except the finance part, of course. Right, that's how it happens. Later in life, I went back to school mid-career and earned my MBA, and I'm just a learner. You know, for the past 10 years I love taking online classes when I have time, and most recently this year I took classes on design thinking and DEI.Speaker 1:
So how did you progress your career after college?Speaker 2:
Yep. So, as I mentioned, I started with that nonprofit that I had been in in turning while while I was in college. But then I also had the opportunity to work in the private sector and in the public sector, but it was always an operational roles. And after I did the MBA I was able to work in tech startups. That's where I wanted to go for a long time and the MBA helped me do that. And all these career transitions they were facilitated by people in my network who thought of my skills in solving a problem in their workplace.Speaker 1:
Is there been anyone or anything that has been a major source of inspiration during your career journey, when you've been transitioning from one career to the other?Speaker 2:
I have always admired people that made dramatic career transitions and I read a lot of biographies, especially as a child, and what always was interesting to me is like why they wanted to make a change and how they made the changes. And the why was typically to make a better life, but the how was never really discussed.Speaker 1:
So let's talk about the whole topic of this episode, that is, transferable skills. You wrote a book called the skills the common denominator. How and when did you start thinking about writing this book? That is very specific.Speaker 2:
Yes, no, it's a great question, and so it actually started seven or eight years ago. I used to give a presentation and how to use LinkedIn for your personal brand, and every time I delivered the presentation, I always received positive feedback, and so I used to think, wow, if I could turn this content into a book one day, it could reach and help more people. And during the pandemic three years ago in the US, 20% of people lost their jobs because companies shut down or restructured, and I knew that I could help them by taking that presentation and putting it into a book. That was the right time to do it, and so that presentation became the second half of the book. Then I said that wasn't enough. I need to tell stories of people that made dramatic career changes to help the people that lost their jobs, and so I collected stories of people who made major changes, but they were achievable changes and they served as examples of to the readers of people who use their skills to make changes, and these people they made an average of six changes each, so there's a lot of reference points for the reader who's trying to understand how to make a change, and I just mentioned earlier the biographies I would read, would talk about why somebody made a change, but never the how. I made sure to capture the why, the how and also who helped them, so that the reader understands like they can leverage not just their skills but also their networks to make the changes to improve their career and their life, and that all those stories are in the first half of the book.Speaker 1:
Why transfer was kids are so important in a world of war that is in constant evolution.Speaker 2:
Great question, alisa. And so there's been a huge shift in conversations towards skills based hiring. And skills based hiring means an employer is going to make changes to the prerequisite criteria of a role, and this could be, for example, removing the degree requirements or removing the years of experience and taking that out of the job description. And what that does? It opens the door for non traditional candidates to apply for the opening, and so the workforce, all of us. We need to be ready to talk about our skills to employers, to show that we can meet the requirements that are necessary to succeed in a role.Speaker 1:
So what is the best way to identify our transferable skills?Speaker 2:
To identify the transferable skills you want. To start with an inventory of your transferable skills. If you read the book, you'll see I have 42 skills in the 14 stories. But you can also search online for a list of skills and see which ones you have and which ones you don't have and which ones you want. That's the way to think about it, and then sometimes it's just easier to ask other people friends, family, coworkers what they think your skills are, and I think you'll be really surprised at what you hear and also the consistency of the skills that they share with you.Speaker 1:
How can we use transferable skills to change career? Because, while you just mentioned, you know there may be new opportunities coming. It all started with the lockdown, the pandemic, the way people are recruiting is changing, the world of work is changing. So, yeah, how can we use our transferable skills to look for new opportunities that are different from the one we've been looking before?Speaker 2:
Absolutely. So that's a great follow on question. I think, now that we, you know, we talked, we identified our skills and now the next step is articulating how we use them, whether that's at work, at home or at volunteer activities, and that will help connect the dots between what an employer is looking for and your abilities. Now you can always use the job description as a guide to help connect those dots, and I think the example that I love sharing is you know, if there's someone who's trying to go from a role where they're an individual contributor to a manager in a workplace, and sometimes when they're trying to make that move, they may have never managed people before in a workplace and that's why they're trying to make the move. And they may have experience outside of the workplace, maybe in a volunteer activity, maybe when they were in school. You know something in their community where they have been a leader of people and they can share that experience to highlight that they have the transferable skills of leadership, of collaboration, and that helps to build a case for you to be considered for a managerial role. So I hope the listeners are inspired to think about their skills in a new way to make that career change.Speaker 1:
So why many topics that are discussed here for me are quite recurrent. I hear bits and pieces here and there. Every time I learn something new, and this time, while I was reading about what you do, I discovered something that is called skills based networking. What is it and why is important when we want to change career?Speaker 2:
Absolutely so. I mentioned earlier about you know there's the who who helped you make that career change, and I learned through my interviews you know over 90% of the time somebody is there to open the door for you to the next role because they can connect the dots on your skills and the problems that need to be solved. And skills based networking is when a candidate's your contacts provide feedback on their candidacy for a role based on the moments where the skills stood out to them or to others in their professional or personal network, and so I think it's really important that as we change careers, we need to stay in touch with our contacts because they may be able to connect the dots or triangulate, and so you need to be in the market for the skills that you have and there is, you know and then open the door to those opportunities. And so networking is really, really key, and that's a key promise of the book.Speaker 1:
Is there also a way that sorry, this is a question, a surprise question but is there a way to expand our skill based networking, for example for kids, that we don't have yet and absolutely be the best way in your experience?Speaker 2:
And so you know, look, I love looking at people's LinkedIn profiles because you can see how they went from one role to the next. And I think, if you you know there's a role that you want or a company you want to work for, find people who have the role that you want or work in that company, look at their career paths, come up with some interesting questions and ask them for, you know, 1520 minutes to connect and talk about their career. And so they're talking about themselves. So, and I think, especially in today's world where we're all eager to connect, they'll likely say yes, especially if you write a really compelling message about how you want to learn from them. And so I think that's one way to not only learn about the path that can be good for you, but it's also a way to expand your network. And so you know, you can see people who have the role or work in the company that you desire, and so, if they have a role, does open up later they may consider you and refer you into that company, and it helps you also in your, in your educational journey. Are on career pivots.Speaker 1:
So I think there is a mismatch between people starting or talking more about transferable skills and being able to recognize that and so dreaming of new careers, new job, and employees not being so open yet or not so ready to identify candidates that are not perfectly much in their job description, but they can have these transferable skills and they are very capable to do the job. How important is for employers to develop an open mindset on skills when hiring and why yeah, always.Speaker 2:
I know exactly what you mean and it's so disappointing when employers don't take the time to identify candidates transferable skills for an opening. I know I felt that disappointment as a job candidate and also, you know, because I can see like, oh, here's the role and here's my skill set, but then I don't get an interview and I wonder like, did I do something wrong? No, they just they didn't connect the dots on the skills. And so I think we all have to remember a job description is usually a wish list, like nobody can meet every single bullet on a job description. So when you break down what's actually needed by skills and this is, you know, the hiring manager has to do this first it becomes more tangible and more realistic of what they're looking for. But then it also helps a job candidate talk about the stories of where they use those skills in a way that the hiring manager understands that they can do the job. And so if we combine, you know, the shift to skills based hiring that we discussed earlier, along with keeping an open mind about a candidate's transferable skills, then the possibilities for an employer to fill the roles with qualified candidates become more and more real and we may even decrease the hiring time because we, as the hiring manager the employers know what they actually want to hire, like the skills they want to hire for, and so it makes interviews go by faster.Speaker 1:
Another surprise question what is the best way for a potential candidate to say, hey, I've seen your job and I think I'm perfect? I know I don't have exactly all the experiences required, but I know I have experience that is similar in other fields. So what's the best way to get noticed when applying for the job of our dreams or something we really want?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I think this is where a cover letter can be a really good way to show that you know that you have the skills for the problems that they have, because you can then articulate I see the challenge that you're presenting, know that I've dealt with similar challenges in my other roles and I'm ready to take on this challenge in your company. And that's a great, because not many people use the cover letter. So when you do write one, you know the better chances that somebody reads it because it makes you stand out. Another way is, if you can, you know, reach out to the recruiter or to a hiring manager and you know with a small note that says like hey, I'm really interested in this role because I've solved this challenge in another industry or in a different place that may pique their interest and they and they give you a conversation. Right, you have to be really proactive here, especially if you're trying to connect the dots and it's not obvious to the person on the other side.Speaker 1:
So we are approaching the end of this episode, but we have still a few more questions. Okay, each of us, with our choices, can have a positive impact on the world. How do you feel you're making the world a better place?Speaker 2:
Oh, that's like such a nice question, alisa. You know I wrote this book really just to help folks find happiness in their careers and every time you know someone who reads the book and achieves their career pivot, you reach out to me with an update. Oh my gosh, it makes my day. I feel like you know I achieved what I set out and trying to make the world a better place.Speaker 1:
And what type of advice would you give to anyone during their journey to self-realization? You've done your journey yourself, so what the best advice you?Speaker 2:
could give. I think you know, don't reinvent the wheel on mistakes. Talk to other people, learn from their examples and move forward from there. You know there's so many people who have already stumbled through trying to make changes and they know what you should not be doing and they're happy to share their advice and their guidance.Speaker 1:
And now, really the last question If you could give yourself a piece of advice, what would you say to your younger self Stay fearless. Well, thank you, asha, so much for joining us today and sharing your inspirational story and wisdom with our listeners.Speaker 2:
Alisa, thank you so much for having me on the show. This is a great conversation.Speaker 1:
Thank you and the last message for our listeners don't forget to subscribe to our channel and tune in next week for a new inspirational episode of the Career Changes. Thank you.