How Margarita Marquez used her transferable skills to land a new job

For nine years, Margarita worked as a customer service representative at a call center. As a veteran in her organization, she was entrusted with training some of her co-workers, supporting them, and answering any questions they had about the training plans set by their supervisors.

When it was time for Margarita to leave her call center job, she went into retail, where she started out as a jewelry sales associate. Seeing the customers’ faces when she helped them find what they were looking for was always a highlight of Margarita’s day. After realizing Margarita’s calling for helping people, it wasn’t long before she began receiving recognition from her supervisors, they started involving her in manager meetings and wanted her to be their next jewelry lead when a position became available. Margarita looked forward to learning more, taking on new responsibilities, and helping new people be successful in their role.

Margarita took on an assistant store manager position, and with the new role came new responsibilities for her and higher expectations for the team she led, so she began coaching employees who weren’t meeting their sales goals. In her customer service positions, Margarita learned many valuable skills:

  • Leadership Skills
  • Organizations skills
  • Being flexible and willing to adjust to the needs of others
  • Time-management
  • Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Unfortunately, the store where Margarita was working closed, and with a year-old baby at home, moving to another location that involved a lot of travel, was not an option.

As Margarita looked for another job, she thought about what type of career she was looking for and whether going back to school was the right move for her. She also reflected on the transferable skills, these are general skills that can be applied to many different careers; after years in customer service, Margarita had gained a lot of these important skills.

During her job search, Margarita didn’t feel confident applying for many jobs because she lacked the four-year degree they required. Luckily, she found a job posting for Weld County that accepted experience as a substitute for a degree, and that gave her a boost of confidence in her employment search. The job title interested to her, the required skills the job posting listed were skills she had been doing for many years, and best of all, she didn’t need a four-year degree.

Margarita landed a job at Weld County as a clerical support technician for employment services and hoped someday her new role would open up the doors to other positions within employment services.

As a clerical support technician, she put her transferable skills to work, relying heavily on her organization, time-management, and communication skills. Nine months into her new job, a case manager position opened up at Weld County, this position also accepted work experience in lieu of a degree. With the support of her supervisor, Margarita decided to apply for the job opening. Before applying she got help with her resume, to make sure that it showcased the skills and responsibilities the position required.

“What really helped me was to look at that job description, because it told me what they were looking for. I knew I had those skills and was able to perform those duties, so I knew what I needed to highlight during my interview.”

A picture of Margarita Marquez
Margarita Marquez, TANF case manager at Weld County Department of Human Services. 

Now, Margarita is a TANF case manager at Weld County Department of Human Services and a participant of the Skillful Governor’s Coaching Corps!

Her past job experience has helped her relate to her clients and encourage them to pursue careers that they may not have thought possible before.

“I tell my clients the sky is the limit! The only one stopping you is you. You have to be open-minded to pursue opportunities you never thought of before.”

Margarita’s story came full circle when she helped a client who had been her co-worker at her last retail job.

“I remember a conversation I had with her, she came in and she told me, ‘Well I don’t really have any skills.’ It blew me away when she told me that. In her head, she was just a backroom retail associate with no skills. So, I did a test with her where I had her list her responsibilities and we wrote down the skills needed to perform these job duties. This opened her eyes to all the skills she has.”

Margarita would like employers to think about whether or not degree requirements are necessary for some positions,

“You might’ve had the perfect person for the job, and you won’t know it because you’re overlooking their application, because of a missing credential. They may have all the skills to complete the job duties and accomplish what the business needs, but we’re not giving anybody a chance. I think we’re spending too much time focused on the credentials as opposed to asking ourselves ‘can this person do the job?’ If a job seeker is applying, it’s because they feel like they can do the job. It’s important to be open-minded.”

And for all the job seekers out there who don’t believe they have transferable skills; Margarita has some words for you as well!

“Give yourselves some credit for the things that you have done. Take some time to sit back and really think about the things that you’re good at. Think about the things you did well at another job and things that you enjoy doing. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t be afraid to boast about the things you know you do well, because that could very well be what an employer is looking for in an employee.”