Remember kindergarten and the Golden Rule poster hanging on the wall? Wikipedia defines it as the “principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated." This isn’t just a rule; it's a moral philosophy and a transferable skill we should all take with us wherever we go. Seriously, everywhere, not just professionally at the office, but socially, to school, to meetings, to work, to the bus station, the corner store, to everywhere. There are many transferable skills and abilities that are relevant to employers, and knowing what some of them are will help you nail that next interview and get that dream job!

According to recruiters (and I am one so I speak from experience), the most desirable transferable skills vary by position, but if you read the job descriptions closely, you will find that there are many subtle hints! “Seeking a self-starter!” "Looking for a strong team player!”  Job skill transferability is something you'll want to have both in your cover letter and on your resume.

What are some of the transferable skills that top the list of desirable transferable skills? Check out this skill checklist to help you identify your strengths and excel in your career with a palpable work ethic, whether you're in a full-time job or a part-time job, a first-time job seeker or someone looking for a career change.

1. Communication:

The ability to speak and be heard in a way that is clear and easy to understand. This goes for both written and spoken forms of communication, so take care when you write your résumé and cover letter. Also, be thoughtful and speak with intent in all parts of the interview and selection process. Recruiters receive a high level of CVs and emails, so recognize you are being evaluated on how you communicate at each level of the process.

2. Leadership:

Even if you aren’t applying for a leadership role, employers want to know you have the ability to take the lead on projects and in meetings. This skill is easy to highlight in application materials, just speak to the direct experience gained through previous projects and roles. Being the project lead on a new sales campaign, or the lead on research for new software to improve processes at work. Remember that an important part of being a good leader is the ability to delegate, so highlight this experience if applicable. Employers may want to know what your leadership style is, so be sure you have identified your style! Not sure? There are several self assessments you can take; here is just one: interpersonal skills self assessment.

3. Team Work:

This is the ability to work as part of an already established team to meet the goals and objectives of the department and organization. Think about a time when you were part of a team, what your role was, and how you communicated with your group/team and the project and/or process, including those involved at the junior, senior and executive levels.

4. Initiative:

This is the ability to be a self-starter, an idea generator and a creative team player, not the person who is consistently waiting to be told what to do. This is an absolutely essential skill! Be sure to communicate ideas you developed for projects, leads or whatever is relevant in your profession. Responsible for creating process to improve efficiency in the X department, which increased sales by Y — you get my drift.

5. Listening:

The ability to actively listen when someone is talking is key! It means not thinking about your response, a witty comeback or how much you wish the person would stop talking so you can get back to work but, rather, carefully listening to understand. Think about a time when you had to listen for information and how you made sure you understood. Listening is a critical skill not everyone has, but we can all learn to be better listeners.

Transferable skills are extremely valuable as they are plug-and-play across companies, industries, sectors, agencies and job positions. According to recruiters, the most critical transferable skills are not hard skills, but soft skills, so when applying for jobs, be sure to highlight the transferable skills you would bring to the available role. Of couse, each transferrable skill on this skill checklist is key to your career. So make sure each skill and ability above are on your resume, and you're good to go.


Laura Vinson is an MBA, and HR Professional working in Talent Acquisition and Recruitment & Selection in the public sector. In her free time, she is the Mother of 3, wakeboarder, mountain biker, snowboarder, camper, runner, backpacker, hiker, lover of World Cup soccer, and college football!