Don't Sell Yourself Short

Updated: Mar 8

It was easy to see employees ' skillsets in my previous job and a year later explain to an owner how to better utilize them to the business's advantage. Yikes.

During my relocation, it's been somewhat challenging to explain my transferable skills from the creative industry to healthcare (or any business for that matter). Even though I've been in healthcare, the institutions I'm working with now are ... consistent, thorough, and professional. It requires a bit of visionary explaining of the nuances related to my CV and my application.

Moving from design to healthcare, specifically as a broad creative designer to a mental health advocate and healthcare professional, I think it's fair to say that most of us in the creative arts have skills that serve us well in other industries if we are looking to make a career change.

Sure, there may be an additional degree, certificate, or training one needs. Still, there are quite a few transferable skills if you have been training in the arts, and have additional skills professionally or personally.

For example, I am a trained graphic designer, web designer, and educator with a strong sense of technology, information, and hierarchy design. And, in addition, I've managed mental illness, suicidal ideation, sexual assault, hoarding, and many other behavioral health issues.

How does that translate to skills? In multiple ways because I've had to figure out how to make the connections. For example if you want to transfer art to a new field:


First and foremost, designers are problem solvers. On the first day of class, I give a lecture. The lecture, in a nutshell, is this ... "This is not an art course; I don't want to know that your gf or bf broke up with you and your picked colors due to personal angst. We are problem-solvers, we have a purpose, and that purpose is to solve problems, specifically design problems." We need to find solutions to get us from A to B; standing still just doesn't cut it.


We constantly observe trends, ideas, changes, and nuances in everyday life. We follow changes in color, texture, weight, looks, environments, behaviors, watch patterns, and sometimes intuitively know something is different around us.

Critical Thinking

We are critical thinkers ... to our detriment. We think about everything, and I have to say that it's become obsessive behavior for me after practicing design for years. Critical thinking relates to problem-solving; after all, we are trying to get something done effectively, efficiently, visually, and or collectively.


Clients don't know what they don't know. They may love lime green, but they are in the healthcare business, green makes some patients' stomachs turn; we know color theory, maybe light blue or earthy tones is better. We created the branding, but we don't get attached; we educate, research, and adapt to changes, choices, and outcomes. Sometimes, we don't get what we think should happen, but baby steps can sometimes help. We are adaptable.


Creativity doesn't happen in a bubble, neither does recovery or independent living (in my case). Collaboration, groups, connections, and like my 2010 round table presentation at NCMPR conference, "Herding Cats," find support for your cause. It takes a village (yes, I'm sorry ... I know, but it does).

Active Listening

Active listening is critical to understanding client needs (in both industries). Sometimes you need to grab information in the gray area to fully grasp what's being communicated. If you are a black and white thinker, you won't know those nuances. A client doesn't always know what is best or what they may want, and active listening helps determine and repeat what you interpret to be a corrective action.

As I'm writing this, my sister comes in to ask, "What are you doing?" So, I respond, "I'm thinking about how I can better explain transferable skills from design to healthcare." She replies, "Well, you can't; they're not the same." And I disagree. We all have something to offer and contribute to and always know there is something you have to offer. You can find many solutions if you are willing to do the work. Know your outcome, acquire the skills, and have mentors, cheerleaders, and support systems to keep you moving. So, that degree, life skills, hobbies, and personal experiences cost so much at the time, but, if you are struggling to find the work, with a bit of creativity, look closely, you have skills that are transferable.

Being an former art student does not mean we are all sitting around coloring pretty pictures.