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Creating Transferable Skills for the COVID-19 Job Market

By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Public University

We are living in changing and uncertain times. The coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the global economy, resulting in the loss of employment for many people and changes in employment for many others. Small businesses have been hit hard by coronavirus-related restrictions, and some industries are experiencing widespread reduction in their workforce, such as the hospitality industry.

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Now Is the Time to Recognize and Utilize Your Transferable Skills

There may never be a better time than now for you to recognize and utilize your transferable skills. There are transferable skills that work no matter what industry you’re in. For many, changes in employment in the coming year is likely so it is wise to determine how your transferable skills can be used in different career fields in case you experience a layoff.

Over the past 10 years, I have worked in the military, marketing, law enforcement, aviation (as a partner of a growing regional airline) and education. Now, I’m also a consultant on topics associated with criminal justice, such as human trafficking.

Along the way, I learned some general skills that have helped me across several different career fields. From my experience, I found that critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, the ability to work well with others by supporting them, and the willingness to learn is essential in succeeding in any type of employment. Other transferable skills that are useful to have include:

  • Organizing teams
  • Leadership and the ability to motivate others
  • Active listening skills
  • Effective communication skills
  • The ability to solve complex problems
  • Strong communication and math skills
  • Organization skills
  • Technical skills such as strong computer skills
  • Office management skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Process improvement skills

Be Proactive in Developing Your Transferable Skills

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, be proactive in considering how your transferable skills would align well with recession-resistant career fields and career fields that are least likely to be impacted by COVID-19. There are many careers that fit this bill. Some of them include:

  • Medical and other healthcare providers (healthcare industry)
  • IT professionals (tech industry)
  • Utility workers
  • Social workers
  • Credit and debt management counselors
  • Public safety workers
  • Local or state government employees
  • Educators
  • Senior care providers
  • Law enforcement and fire service

Lack of Industry Experience Isn’t Always a Barrier to Getting Hired

Lack of experience in a particular career field is not necessarily a barrier to getting hired in that field if you have the general education and the skills needed to perform the job. These skills can be developed through everyday life — at school, in our social lives and through previous employment.

For example, communication or writing skills that someone gains in the tourism field can easily transfer to a successful career in public safety or utility services. When I left active duty in the military in 2006 and entered civilian employment, I was astonished how many basic skills that I developed in the military helped me. Working as a team, discipline, and supporting others as a supervisor were skills that were especially helpful in the civilian field, regardless of whether they used during my time in aviation, law enforcement, or education.

Overall, everyone with life experience has skills that can be transferred to a new career. Developing a plan early can reduce your stress about the future, and using transferable skills may result in exploring a new job that results in more job satisfaction and career growth.

About the Author

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor at American Public University and has over two decades in the field of homeland security. His expertise includes human trafficking, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction, and intelligence gathering. Jarrod recently conducted in-country research in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He has served as a consultant and speaker to the key stakeholders in law enforcement, defense forces, and criminal justice in Belize on the topics of human trafficking and drug trafficking.

In late 2020, Jarrod served as a consultant for the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime on human trafficking and organized crime in Central America. His contributions will be reflected on the worldwide Organized Crime Index that will be published in 2021. His research on drug trafficking was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report in 2019.

Most recently, Jarrod presented at the 2020 International Human Trafficking Conference where he presented his research on human trafficking in South America. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Central America, and Europe on the topics of human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, police responses to domestic terrorism, and various topics in policing. Jarrod can be reached through his website at www.Sadulski.com for consulting and speaking engagements.

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