Are you a recent college graduate wondering what you can offer a prospective employer? Are you a seasoned professional looking to make a career change and wondering just how to facilitate it? This is where your transferable skills come into play.
Transferable skills can be used in a variety of contexts, industries and occupations. These are skills you may have learned in a previous job, in school, or through life experience. Perhaps you are an excellent communicator, are a go-to person for solving problems or have strong attention to detail. Maybe you’re extremely organized, are able to consider issues from multiple angles and perspectives or know how to deliver compassionate, meaningful feedback.
If you’re worried that you don’t have much to offer a new employer, don’t focus on a lack of work or industry experience. Instead, consider your transferable skills. These can be enormously valuable in many areas of the working world and highly beneficial to any employer.
Transferable skills are the qualifications and abilities that can be used in and relate to many different tasks and career paths. They include both hard and soft skills.
Transferable skills are called so because you can transfer them to a wide range of occupations and responsibilities. They will benefit you in nearly any job, so you can taking them with you from role to role. They will serve you well in many contexts, such as if you decide to change careers.
People acquire transferable skills through school, extracurricular activities, volunteering, work experience, social activities and more. These skills often serve you areas that extend beyond work and your career and can help you in your personal life, too.
Including transferable skills on your resume can help you demonstrate your qualifications to employers. It’s especially helpful to list them if you’re a recent college graduate who is just starting out as an entry-level job candidate, you haven't been working for a period of time or you’re looking to change careers or roles within an industry.
Many of the skills you learned and developed as a student, such as the leadership skills you gained as an officer in student government, will be useful to you and your future employer in a career. Moreover, transferable skills you’ve honed for years in one career can be adaptable to another. For example, if you’re a marketing professional trying to make the switch to teaching, you certainly have strong communication skills, which will serve you well in the classroom.
• Oral (speaking)
• Public speaking
• Foreign language proficiency
• Relationship building
• Customer service
• Time management
• Attention to detail
• Project management
• Delivering feedback
• Knowledge of specific software/programs
• Data management
• Data mining
• Creative thinking
• Strategic thinking
• Record keeping
• Data entry
Now that you’ve gone over the list and identified which qualities you have and can be highlighting in the job search and hiring process, how do you showcase them to prospective employers? There are two main ways to include transferable skills on your resume: incorporating them into descriptions and placing them in a designated section.
When describing your past work experience or crafting your summary of qualifications or objective, incorporate your transferable skills. For instance, you might call yourself a “strong communicator with meticulous attention to detail” in your objective. If you’re including them in your descriptions of previous positions you’ve held, you could say something along the lines of “brainstormed and successfully implemented solutions to X problem.”
You can draw employers’ attention to these skills by specifically highlighting them in a designated section. Include a skills section under your work experience or, if you’d rather draw more attention to them, directly above it. Label the section “Skills” and include any relevant technical and soft skills.
You can also highlight these skills in other aspects of the interview and hiring process. You might, for instance, mention them during your interview, incorporating them into the discussion, such as when (and if) the interviewer asks you to describe your strengths. You could also highlight them in your cover letter when detailing your qualifications for the role. Calling them out emphasizes your versatility as a potential employee.
Recruiters and hiring managers sift through hundreds of resumes trying to identify candidates who are good matches for the roles in question. While many job seekers have the necessary qualifications and experience, employers need a way to differentiate them. Transferable skills are a way to do so. They demonstrate that you’re adaptable and have a diverse skill set — something that will set you apart in the hiring process. After all, excelling in a job doesn’t just require knowledge of how to actually do the job, because many people have that. It also requires versatility and less tangible qualities, such as working well with others, communicating effectively, having an eye for detail and other skills.
Whether you’re just starting out on the job hunt, are looking for a change in careers or just want to market yourself effectively, consider incorporating transferable skills into your resume and other aspects of the hiring process to give yourself a competitive advantage.