Fake it

Fake It ’Til You Make It: 4 Transferable Skills That Help When Tackling a New Industry

Abby Sabol, a recruitment specialist at our New York City branch, reflects on how she navigated her career shift by focusing on her strengths.

At the age of eighteen, I was dead set on conquering the fashion industry.

While studying visual communications and marketing at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute, I attended a handful of impressive internships before securing a position managing a jewelry boutique and its respective online store in Philadelphia. Two years later, I celebrated my 24th birthday and realized something important about my adult self… I had no true interest in the fashion industry.

Where to now?

Four years, three part-time retail merchandising jobs and two bartending stints later, I discovered the staffing industry. I was excited to help people find jobs and assist clients in procuring top talent. However, I still faced one hurdle:  I had no experience with the industry itself. After interviewing at a few firms, I accepted a position as an entry-level Staffing Coordinator.  How could my past retail experience be utilized in the corporate world?  When I began in my recruiting role, I admittedly knew very little, but felt that success would follow if I learned as much as possible.

Four skills have never failed me, even when my confidence did:

Networking – Maria Rodale of the Huffington Post says that “networking isn’t always at the top of our priority list. It can be awkward, time-consuming, and after a long work week, much less appealing than the couch.” Try to meet new corporate friends in a social setting. This can help advance your career, build relationships, increase your knowledge base, and create new business opportunities.  Networking is a great way to feel at home in your new industry, and free appetizers are a bonus!

Flexibility/Adaptability – Adaptability is the nature of changing or creating modifications to suit a new environment, such as being open to new ideas while functioning and performing with a positive attitude and accepting unforeseen challenges. Flexible people are easily approached and often accept new challenges to expand their industry knowledge and learning.

Poise – “The customer is always right” is a mantra that echoes from every sales and operations teams’ walls, and it is a beneficial attitude for placating an unsatisfied corporate client. Maintaining poise in stressful situations earns trust and creates strong interpersonal and business relationships.  A smile and positive attitude can clear your mind in difficult situations, making it easier to communicate and reach a common goal.

Resilience – A new industry can be overwhelming. New work, a new environment, and new ideals—you’re bound to hit more than one road block.  Rich Fernandez of the Harvard Business Review says that he’s seen over and over again that the most resilient individuals and teams aren’t the ones that don’t fail, but rather the ones that fail, learn and thrive because of it.”  Bouncing back and encouraging others to do the same benefits any challenging business situation!

Always focus on your strengths, and work on your weaknesses.  If socializing and networking come naturally, stack your calendar with events.  If positivity is your strong suit, use it to your advantage!  For me, it was natural to utilize my retail and service experiences.  I prioritized flexibility, retained a positive attitude, and focused on the goals I wanted to achieve.  Fake it until you make it!