The term “transferable skills” continues to gain popularity in the recruitment industry as both employers and candidates begin to look outside their industries when filling a vacancy or making their next career move.

Skills shortages remain an ongoing challenge to many employers in Singapore, yet there is one under-used strategy they could consider to overcome this skills gap — candidates with transferable skills.

Too often, Singaporeans are trapped in career silos because they don’t believe they can cross industry boundaries. At the same time, this perception is compounded by employers who do not consider the transferable skills of candidates who could support their growth plans.

Employers who overcome this skills gap by becoming more flexible in their requirements on a candidate’s industry background and transferable skills are able to secure top talent.

The Hays Quarterly Report has found that employers across a range of industries are now more willing to consider candidates with transferable skills as the challenge to find the perfect candidate continues to impact on effective recruitment timeframes.

For example, a human resource professional with experience in the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) industry has the technical skills to perform a similar role in the financial services industry.

That is why recruitment specialist Hays advises employers to give credence to transferable skills. By over-emphasising the value of previous same-industry experience, employers could miss out on talented people and motivated workers.

This trend extends to proactive candidates who realise that transferring their skills to a new industry can open the door to a whole new set of career opportunities.

Candidates with banking backgrounds increasingly look to their cousins in the insurance world for a more secure and stable career path. As hiring activity slows in the finance sector amid hiring freezes and headcount limits, candidates with transferable skills are on the lookout for new opportunities that offer longevity and career progression in a relatively “recession-proof” business.

In industries where there is a shortage of skilled professionals, employers may need to consider candidates who have the necessary competencies but are not, at first glance, a perfect match.

In considering candidates with transferable skills, employers can train to overcome any skill gaps. For instance, an employer seeking a payroll candidate could consider accounts payable or data entry clerks who can be moulded into a payroll position. An employer who needs a personal assistant could consider strong administrators or team assistants, as their transferable skills will meet most of their requirements.

When considering what skills are transferable, Hays advises employers to look at what is essential and what is desirable in a potential candidate. Consider candidates with the right cultural fit, who have the desired behaviours and transferable skills, not just the specific background initially required.

By considering transferable skills, you open a vacancy to a larger pool of candidates who have solid experience, suit the company, and can become a highly valued asset with a little technical training.