So far, we’ve focused on the importance of contextual information for strategic decision-making. We’re now going to shift our focus to specific skills that support strategic decision-making. We’ll start by watching a short video which highlights the importance of transferable skills:
“I wasn’t hired for what I know. I was hired for what I can find out.” = Transferable Skills!
Transferable skills can be defined as competencies used in one setting that can also be used in a different setting. The term is frequently used when discussing changes in employment. When we revise a resume to match our prior skills and accomplishments to the skills of a new position posting, we’re identifying our transferable skills for the employer. If we’re applying for the same type of job, just at a different organization, the task is fairly simple: I can use the skills I learned as a bookkeeper at Company X to be the bookkeeper at Company Y.
If we’re changing careers, the task becomes a little more difficult. For example, the nonprofit human services organization looking for an executive director wants applicants to have experience with nonprofits. My experience in corporate marketing is not a good match. However, I do have transferable skills: my marketing and communication skills can be applied to the public relations and fund-raising responsibilities of the executive director’s position. I just need to make this connection clear to the hiring committee.
The concept of transferable skills is directly related to our original question of the relationship between experience and formal education. This is the position that A. Hyatt Mayer found himself in. He didn’t have years of experience as a curator at a large art museum, but his formal education had given him transferable skills. He knew what questions to ask in a given situation, and he knew how to find the answers needed in that situation. His primary transferable skill? Mastery of the critical inquiry process, the same one you’ll be using in CRIT 602:
“Critical inquiry is the process of gathering and evaluating information, ideas, and assumptions from multiple perspectives to produce well-reasoned analysis and understanding, and leading to new ideas, applications and questions” (“Critical Inquiry,” n.d.).
The other lesson we can learn from A. Hyatt Mayer is that the (presumably) esteemed board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art didn’t see his transferable skills. They only saw his lack of experience.
It is up to us to know what transferable skills we have and how they can be applied so that we can make this connection clear to others and use it to our full advantage. Let’s break down the transferable skills that are involved in the CRIT 602 activities:
1. Developing a critical inquiry question to identify relevant context:
In CRIT 602, you have been given a general critical inquiry question that your research should answer: How will current trends, concerns, and research related to my academic discipline inform the decisions I make about my academic and professional development or personal interests? In this course, you will refine this question in a way that makes it relevant for both the role you aspire to play in your field and where you currently are in your academic and professional development. Therefore, your critical inquiry question should be related to trends in your field or concerning potential career paths rather than a scholarly research question.
Knowing how to ask the right questions in a given situation is an important skill for the workplace, which is most commonly expressed in employment position postings as “problem-solving.” When something goes wrong, do you know what questions to ask to ensure a good solution? Along similar lines, knowing what questions to ask to ensure that your organization can take advantage of opportunities involves the same skill. In employment position postings, this is most often expressed as “leveraging” something.
2. Conducting exploratory searches for information:
An example of an activity in the workplace that calls for an exploratory search strategy would be conducting research to identify new markets for a product. What markets might our product appeal to that we haven’t previously considered? The person or team conducting this research for the employer will want to cast a wide net to ensure that no opportunities are missed. On the other hand, if the company has already decided on a new geographic region it wants to break into and now wants to know what their competitors are charging for comparable products, a targeted search strategy is needed. There will be a definitive answer to the question, How much does Company X charge for this product in Y region of the country?
The general critical inquiry question for CRIT 602 is exploratory in nature. There is no one definitive answer to the question of relevant contexts for a field of study. Answering the question, therefore, will require an exploratory search strategy. In contrast, a question that has one definitive answer requires a targeted search strategy. An example of a professional development question requiring a targeted search strategy would be, What are the requirements to sit for the CPA exam in the State of New Hampshire?
3. Providing written information to other people to answer a question they’ve asked:
If we continue with our market research example, once the exploratory search has been completed, the responsible person will need to present the information to the decision-makers. These people will be expecting a written report with the research findings from the exploratory search, along with an in-depth analysis that will answer their original question: What markets might our product appeal to that we haven’t previously considered?
To take an example from the early childhood education field, a teacher might send a weekly report to each child’s parents to answer the question, How is my child doing with behavior and developmental milestones?
In CRIT 602, you will be presenting your research findings and analysis to your instructor and your classmates as a community of practice, but you will also be asked to imagine that you have an external audience looking for answers to your critical inquiry question.
Primary Focus of Transferable Skills in CRIT 602:
The next three skills we’re going to look at are the primary focus of CRIT 602. These are 1) Evaluate Information, 2) Think Analytically, and 3) Reflect on Learning to Guide Professional Practice. These three skills are an integral part of the learning goals for the general education requirements at College of Professional Studies. Your follow-up activity for this reading will be to test your ability to match up the three primary skills CRIT 602 focuses on with skills and responsibilities in employment position postings. Please view the details of these skills below. We’ll be using them for the transferable skills assignment this week.
Goal: Evaluate Information
Determine the Information Needed. The types of information (sources) you select relate to concepts or answer the research question.
Evaluate Information & Its Sources. You choose a variety of information sources. You select sources using basic criteria such as relevance to the research question and currency.
Access & Use Information Ethically & Legally. You distinguish between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution through use of citations and references. You demonstrate a developing awareness of the differences among paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting. You demonstrate an emerging understanding of the ethical and legal restrictions on the use of published, confidential, and/or proprietary information.
Goal: Think Analytically
Analysis. You break concepts or evidence into parts and explain how the parts are related to each other.
Conclusions & Related Implications & Consequences. Your conclusion is logically tied to information. You have identified consequences and implications clearly.
Goal: Reflect on Learning to Guide Professional Practice
Reflection. You relate present ideas, concepts, or experiences to previous ones. You demonstrate an emerging awareness for future professional practice.
Application. You use feedback to develop learning goals and strategies for further learning that have potential application to professional practice.
Critical Inquiry (AFCI 101). (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2018, from University of South Carolina Aiken website: https://www.usca.edu/academic-affairs/general-education/critical-inquiry.dot