In a world where people are readily changing jobs and so many are thinking about moving into new careers, it’s important to have skills that can be applied in all professions. These are known as transferable skills.
Often described as the foundation of professional success, these are the skills that enable employees to be good at any job. Of course, having these on your resume makes you a more favorable applicant for hiring managers. We’ll tell you what transferable skills are and how they can help you land a job.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills can be used at any job. These skills are vital because they show the hiring manager that you're qualified for the position, even if you don't have experience in a particular field.
They can typically be broken down into hard and soft skills. The latter are more in demand in the labor market and include time management, stress management, communication, and customer service skills. Meanwhile, transferable hard skills are acquired through training and include data analysis, coding, copywriting, and foreign language proficiency.
When inking your resume, it’s always important to include skills you’ve acquired through volunteer work and educational activities. These are useful whether you’re fresh out of college, changing careers, or simply applying for remote positions where onboarding can be tricky. Even though you might not have the experience, these skills show that you can get the job done. You’re unlikely to land a managerial position based solely on these skills, but they are sufficient for entry-level jobs.
How Do Transferable Skills Work?
When you're applying for a job, it's essential to show hiring managers that you have the skills they're looking for. Certain transferable skills tell the recruiter that the applicant may not be the perfect fit but has the ability to go beyond the job description.
Identifying the things that need to be included on your list of transferable skills requires you to look at your skill set objectively before you dive into the job search. It helps to pick out skills you’ve acquired at your previous job or through your volunteer work, which are relevant to the job you’re hoping to get.
It doesn't matter if the job title that you’re applying for isn’t the same as your previous one. Excellent communication skills, problem-solving skills, adaptability, critical thinking, teamwork, and attention to detail, are critical to ensuring an easy job transition.
These skills are especially crucial for college graduates and those changing careers because of their inability to showcase expertise that is often acquired through years of training in a particular job role. However, if job applicants possess transferable soft skills, they stand a chance at landing the job.
Examples of Transferable Skills
Here is a more comprehensive look at transferable skills that you can use to land your dream job:
Communication skills, including the ability to write, speak, question, and listen, are essential in any job. Whether you have to use your communication skills to sell services and products, handle upset customers, or diffuse fiery situations between coworkers, this set of skills is useful and appreciated for any position.
Problem-solving skills are another critical component of a professional toolkit. If you can solve problems quickly and effectively without having to stop and ask for more information or guidance, you'll be a valuable asset to any team.
Leadership skills are key transferable skills you should put down on your resume for jobs that require management or supervision. While these aren’t crucial for an entry-level position, for example, they can help you move up the ladder fairly quickly. On the other hand, if you have experience leading a team of employees, you might have an edge over the competition by showing the hiring manager that you can take on more responsibilities and even a leadership role.
Organizational skills are in high demand in the job market because of the increasingly frustrating multitasking demands in our professional lives. Sound time management and staying organized are essential when identifying the most important tasks and investing your energy in those activities. If you have the ability to set priorities and manage your time properly, you'll be a valuable asset to any employer.
Foreign Language Skills
Foreign language proficiency is among the more valuable types of transferable skills for any job that requires communication with people from other countries. If you're looking for a job in customer service, for example, speaking another language will give you an edge over other candidates.
Computer skills are essential in any job that requires the use of computers. If you're looking for a career in the technology industry, for example, you'll need to have excellent computer skills. That said, the digital revolution that transformed our world in recent decades also reshaped a wide range of industries, and computer skills have become one of the most important transferable skills that a job applicant can have.
How Do I Identify My Transferable Skills?
Identifying your transferable skills can be tricky, but there are a few ways to do it. One way is to look at the job description and see what skills are required for the position. If you have those skills, you can transfer them to the new job. Another way is to think about what you did in your previous job that was valuable. Chances are, you can transfer those skills to the new position.
Finally, you can also ask your friends and family what they think your strengths are. They might be able to give you some ideas for your transferable skills list that you haven't thought of before. When asking your friends and family to describe you, you may hear words such as reliable, determined, or go-getter. All these can be used on your resume to impress prospective employers and improve your chances of landing a job.
How Do You Present These Skills on Your Resume?
Once you've identified your strengths, it's time to showcase these transferable skills on your resume. The best way to do this is to include them in your resume's "Skills" section. You can also have them in your "Experience" section or as a separate section altogether.
No matter where you choose to include these skills, make sure to be specific, as they can be one of the most important elements in your resume. For example, if you list communication skills as a transferable skill, don't just say that you're "good at communicating." Instead, give examples of how you've successfully used your communication skills in the past.
Here are a few examples of how you can describe transferable skills on your resume:
- Excellent communication skills: Developed through my experience as a customer service representative, where I was often required to diffuse difficult situations and resolve customer complaints
- Proven leadership skills: Obtained through my time as the captain of the debate team in college
- Strong problem-solving skills: Developed through my experience of working on a team to develop a new software product
- Excellent time management skills: Developed through my experience of working on tight deadlines and managing a busy schedule
Showcasing Transferable Skills in a Cover Letter
In addition to showcasing your transferable skills in your resume, you can also highlight them in your cover letter. This is a great way to catch the recruiter's attention and give them a better idea of who you are.
When writing your cover letter, make sure to mention the transferable skills that you have that are relevant to the job you're applying for, together with values and goals. For example, if you're applying for a job that requires excellent communication skills, you might want to mention an incident that you helped resolve. Or if you're applying for a job that requires strong problem-solving skills, you may want to mention a time when you used your portable skills to solve a complex problem successfully.
Here's an example of how you might showcase your transferable skills in the cover letter:
Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [Last Name],
I am writing to apply for the [position] at [company]. I am confident that I have the skills and experience you are looking for.
One of my strongest skills is communication. I developed excellent communication skills as a customer service representative, where I was often required to diffuse difficult situations and resolve customer complaints. I am confident that my skills would be a valuable asset to your team.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Using Transferable Job Skills in an Interview
When you sit down for a job interview, it's essential to highlight your transferable skills and let the interviewer know that you are capable of completing a range of tasks. To make a good impression in a job interview, it may be a good idea to do a few practice runs.
One useful tip is to try using the STAR technique. This technique is a great way to share specific examples of how you've used your skills in the past during your job interviews.
It stands for:
S - Situation
T - Task
A - Action
R - Result
Here's an example of how you might use the STAR technique to describe transferable skills:
I worked as a customer service representative at Company X when I received a call from an angry customer. The customer was yelling and using profanity, demanding to speak to a manager. I remained calm and polite, and I successfully diffused the situation and resolved the complaint. The customer was happy with the resolution, and they didn't end up calling back or filing a complaint with the business.
By highlighting your transferable skills and the relevant results, you're showing the interviewer that you can do the job. And by using specific examples, you're giving them a better idea of what kind of employee you are.
Transferable skills are, by definition, a great way to show that you have the relevant skills and experience for the job you're applying for. By highlighting your transferable skills on your resume, in your cover letter, and during the interview, you're giving yourself a better chance of landing the job you want.
So, why are transferable skills important to employers? From their standpoint, transferable skills are a good way to determine if a candidate is the right fit for both the job and the business. Transferable skills will help the employee stand out from the competition in the eyes of the prospective employer. In fact, many businesses hire applicants they deem dependable and responsible rather than someone who has been doing the job for years but isn’t particularly engaged or attentive.
If identified and properly emphasized, transferable skills can give the employer valuable insight into what kind of person they are hiring, rather than just looking at qualifications that fit a certain role.