Why is translating our skills from one industry to another so hard?

It’s as if no one is listening.

In this short video (shot as part of a larger series for General Assembly) I explain why…

And how I overcame this obstacle so you can too.


I’ve seen 1 recurring point of failure for professionals who try to translate their skills to a new industry. That’s focusing on a narrative around what they don’t have. It’s no surprise either, you’ve likely found this yourself speaking to HR or recruiters after finding a job opening. This is exactly where it starts, defending your resume. “Why did you leave this company? Tell me about your exposure using Insert Random Technology?” It ends with them telling you don’t have the exact experience they’re seeking.

Now this has got a lasting impact whether you’re aware of it or not. It begins framing your view around yourself in terms of what you lack 1st as the unique experiences and expertise that you bring to the table. The good news is, HR and recruiters don’t hire you. The better news is, there’s a future boss out there who needs your unique expertise. We just need to hone that message and get it in front of him. My personal experience goes beyond simply helping others translate their value. I’ve had to do it on more than 1 occasion.

Before I became a headhunter I was an Infantry Officer in the army. That might seem like quite a paradigm shift but it really isn’t. After a year in my 1st search firm I was invited to interview for a Division Director position. I was going to be managing and growing a team in a new office. All my competition, A, had more experience than me as a headhunter and B, had managed in search firms. Now my leadership experience was completely different.

I’d lead teams into combat deployments and remained responsible for more than 130 men and close to $750 million worth of equipment. Things like austerity, dynamic and ever changing environments coupled with limited resources were my norm. What I came to realize was much of what I had, my company needed direly. As I uncovered that, I not only had a completely different conversation than my competition but I also got the job, a raise, stock options and a full reload package…not too bad for not having the experience required. You have 1 shot to do this and to do it right.