What Are Transferable Skills?

  • Published on:
    November 22, 2022
  • Reading time by:
    6 minutes
What Are Transferable Skills?

This article was originally published on wikijob.co.uk. Transferable skills combine competencies, knowledge and skills that you have gained from the workplace during your career path, from school, internships or elsewhere and take with you to your next employment or career change.

General skills that can be used in different employment roles come under the transferable skills banner; they can be used in various industries and in roles at other seniority levels.

These can be hard skills – technical knowledge like using specific software – and soft skills, the competencies and abilities that are harder to be taught, like active listening and communication.

The top transferable skills that employers value include:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Dependability
  • Organisation
  • Active listening skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Relationship building
  • Team management
  • Adaptability
  • Analytical skills

Finding the right way to describe your transferable skills in your CV during your job search will demonstrate to potential employers that you can bring the competencies and abilities that are needed for success in the role you are applying for.

Tools You’ll Need to Adapt to Any Job

Communication, problem solving and teamwork are all examples of transferable job skills because they can be used in any employed role, your education or vocational training.

As such, it is important that job seekers emphasise their transferable skills within their application documents and during a job interview.

These skills can go a long way to persuading a potential employer that you are the perfect fit for their company, even if you don’t necessarily have the experience.

Transferable skills are the tools you’ll need to adapt to any new job.

List of 20 Transferable Soft Skills for Your CV

There are so many skills that could be considered transferable, even specific software skills that it would be impossible to list every single one in this article, but there are several that are useful for many different roles.

To decide on the ones to include in your CV, you will need to see exactly what the recruiter is looking for in a candidate.

You can do this by looking at the required skills section of the job description, and highlighting your matching skills when you apply.

1. Leadership

Effective leadership involves taking charge and motivating others to achieve specific goals on an individual, team and company level.

Possessing leadership skills will mean that you can effectively manage groups and delegate responsibilities, plan and coordinate a variety of tasks, solve problems and resolve conflict, make and implement decisions, and coach others.

These skills don’t necessarily have to be workplace-related. They can be acquired through a group project at university, a period of work experience or time spent carrying out voluntary work.

2. Problem-Solving

Every business encounters issues, and if you can demonstrate your ability to solve problems, this will be a major bonus for your application.

Some problems are easier to solve than others, and often they relate to the achievement of goals and the barriers that prevent these goals from being achieved.

Problem-solving skills can also include understanding when to ask for help and getting others with different perspectives on board to take on the challenge.

3. Teamwork

Collaborative working is a must for any organisation. Employers want to see their staff work together toward achieving common goals.

Effective teamwork involves sharing credit and accepting responsibility for your own work, being receptive to the ideas and suggestions of your colleagues, building rapport with staff across all areas of the business and establishing effective communication channels to avoid duplicated work, mistakes or other problems.

4. Active Listening

Really listening to other people is a soft skill that is important in every industry, whether you are dealing with customers, clients or fellow employees.

Active listening includes recognizing body language and non-verbal cues, listening to understand and empathizing with the person you are having a conversation with.

This competency is a popular choice of transferable skills in different job descriptions.

5. Data Analysis

Being able to analyse data is a key task in many different businesses.

From identifying patterns to understanding customer metrics, the ability to evaluate information effectively will contribute in some way to the business.

The complexity of this analysis will depend on the company and the specific role, but an aptitude for interpreting information, extracting results and developing reports is a valuable transferable skill.

An employee should be able to use databases to collect data, analyze it and then interpret the information they have collected.

Data collection and analysis is relevant to many different roles, from finance and IT through to marketing and sales.

6. Communication Skills

Being able to communicate well is perhaps one of the most basic employability skills.

Verbal communication is about communicating clearly and concisely with others, whether it is a customer or colleague.

In the world of work, you will be required to present information to a range of audiences both inside and outside the business. Not all these people will understand your work, so being able to communicate with clarity and articulating your ideas in a logical, organized and effective way is important.

7. Time Management and Organisation

Time management is a way in which you organize and plan your time to carry out specific activities.

Effective time management boosts productivity, meaning that you can complete more work in less time, even when you are working under pressure.

Good time management is about planning your day, minimizing distractions and carrying out regular reviews to make sure that you are making progress.

A significant factor in time management is prioritization, and it is only with practice that you can learn to prioritize your tasks more effectively, focusing on the most urgent tasks rather than less important activities.

8. Work Ethic and Dependability

Having a strong work ethic is often part of your own values. It is based on a personal understanding of taking pride in your work because you want to, rather than the rewards that you may receive.

Demonstrating a positive approach to work and being honest – as well as taking initiative and caring about your co-workers – are all factors that convey a strong work ethic.

In addition, learning new skills, showing a commitment to your employer and being responsible for your own work even when things don’t go as you planned all illustrate a good work ethic.

9. Commercial Awareness

Showing that you understand the marketplace in which your employer operates, as well as knowing what makes a business successful, is a key requirement in many jobs and even more important when applying for graduate vacancies.

Once appointed, you will be able to offer a more tailored level of customer service and support the business better if you demonstrate keen commercial awareness.

This could include:

  • Fully understanding the company’s mission and aims
  • Demonstrating your knowledge of the sector and your awareness of the economic and political issues that affect the business
  • Knowing who the major competitors are
  • Understanding the commercial priorities of the business

Your commercial knowledge will come from roles in the same industry or one that is similar, and can also come from education settings, too.

10. Team Management

More than just leading people, team management is a skill that can help build and maintain relationships in the workplace.

Effective team management inspires direct reports and ensures that you can deal with problems in the team as they occur.

A well-managed team works well with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which leads to more accountability, more productivity and ultimately more profit for the company.

11. Interpersonal Skills

A combination of listening and communication skills, interpersonal skills are important for productivity, for connecting with customers and clients, and for leading people.

Interpersonal skills are the driving force behind any team, and candidates with good interpersonal skills will usually be well-regarded by their peers and able to work with people from many different backgrounds. They will be comfortable dealing with top management and with entry-level colleagues.

12. Critical Thinking

Solving a work-related problem, or even a personal one, needs some form of critical thinking to solve it. Critical thinking skills mean thinking outside the box, taking other perspectives into account, and working out the best course of action to take.

Critical thinking skills can come from all sorts of experience, from analysing texts at university to solving problems at your current place of employment, and the structure of thinking is the same wherever you are applying it.

13. Decision-Making

When someone must make a decision, it often falls to those who have the right skills to make the difficult choices.

Decision-making skills are related to critical thinking and problem solving, taking the next step in the process to actually make a change through a decision.

People who are good at making decisions have logically gone through the problem and thought critically about the possible solutions.

14. Conflict Resolution

Most often needed at a management or leadership level, the ability to deal with conflict and work towards a resolution is a critical skill in service industries but also in the workplace itself.

Conflict can happen when a customer is unhappy with a product or service, but it can also happen in the best employee teams. Conflict resolution skills are necessary to ensure that small problems are dealt with quickly so that they don’t snowball – but they are also needed if things get out of hand.

Good conflict resolution skills means taking opposing opinions and thoughts and finding a workable compromise so that all parties feel that they have been listened to, that they matter and so that the problem can be solved as much as possible.

15. Project Management

Aside from the technical skills that go into managing a project, there are soft skills in taking a project and ensuring that it is completed.

Project management skills include being able to work with a team, provide leadership, delegate and deliver feedback. They need to be organised and have a strong work ethic, able to solve problems and make decisions so that the project is delivered as promised, on time and without going over the budget.

16. Public Speaking

Whether you have done a presentation at university, become a speaker at a local group or have performed Shakespeare at an am-dram theatre group, you will have completed some public speaking.

The ability to keep the attention of a group of people and deliver information in an interesting way is what public speaking is all about.

This skill is useful in all sorts of ways, from delivering updates to the management team to selling products or services at industry conferences.

17. Creativity

If you have creative skills, whether that is in art, design, writing or marketing, these can be transferred to other roles across many industries.

Creativity is all about the flow of ideas, using your imagination and trying new things – and this is a skill that is required in many jobs, not just the obvious marketing or graphic design roles.

18. Attention to Detail

Creating error-free work is important in many industries, so an eye for detail is a skill that you can use in almost all job applications.

Candidates with attention to detail will have the ability to spot errors in their own work (and in the work of others), which can save costly mistakes and ensure that all output is completed to the highest standards – whether that is creating invoices and balancing accounts or crafting documents and websites.

19. Relationship Building

Some people have natural networking skills and can ‘work a room’ to make connections and build relationships.

While this is a skill that might be most relevant in a sales role, relationship building is an essential skill when dealing with customers and clients, with direct reports in the team and when reporting to executives and managers.

Relationship building skills allow candidates to demonstrate that they can communicate, negotiate and listen appropriately to form working relationships that benefit the company.

20. Giving Feedback

This soft skill might be considered to be more appropriate for roles like team leader or manager, but the ability to give good, constructive feedback is important in most roles.

Giving feedback is not about being kind, or not telling people bad news, but about phrasing responses to ensure that there can be a positive outcome. This might mean stating that something isn’t working but offering ideas to improve.

Not all feedback needs to be negative; there is some skill needed to give valuable positive feedback in the right way too.

Top 5 Transferable Hard Skills for Your CV

Hard skills are the abilities that you will have learned through study, certification or experience in other roles.

They are often related to technical knowledge about a particular subject.

1. Microsoft Office

Across all industries, the Microsoft Office suite of programs is still one of the most popular choices for office-related creations – and it doesn’t change.

Learning to use the different software and features of Office will give you easily transferable skills in creating documents and slideshows, and confidently using spreadsheets and databases.

2. Adobe

In a similar way to Office, Adobe is the standard software used in the creative industries.

If you have experience or even qualifications in using Premiere Pro and Photoshop, you will find it easy to transfer that knowledge into a new role that needs those skills.

3. Programming

Coding languages are fixed, and having skill in using one (or more) is necessary for most developer roles, but also for IT, data analysis and even some engineering roles.

Some of the more popular languages that you might have skills in include:

  • Python
  • C#
  • Ruby
  • HTML

3. CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is used in many different industries, and although there are different publishers of programs designed to make managing customer data simple, they all work in a similar way.

Working knowledge and skills in using one type of CRM can be listed as a directly transferable skill if the company you are applying for uses the same software, and even if they don’t.

4. Marketing

Marketing skills, especially using social media, are transferable. Hard skills in marketing include understanding SEO, applying analytics and creating and implementing advertising strategies.

Marketing skills are easy to transfer between different roles and even different industries for candidates who have the right level of competency and can work with different products, services and demographics.

5. Writing

Writing skills are important in terms of general communication, but you can also get more specific writing skills like technical writing (for instruction manuals or product descriptions) and copywriting (for selling products or services).

If you have skills with the written word, you will find that this is something that can be useful across several industries and in many different types of roles.

The Importance of Transferable Skills

If you want to secure a new employment opportunity, you are going to have to demonstrate a specific set of skills needed for the role.

Some of these skills will be specific to the industry, while others (transferable skills) are those that you can build on and develop throughout your career.

Transferable skills tend to bring the following benefits for candidates and employers:

  • Flexibility – In an increasingly competitive job market, companies want to recruit employees who can diversify and complete multiple tasks and roles. When you have a diverse skill set, this will set you apart from the other applicants and shows you have greater flexibility.
  • Diversity – The more transferable skills you have, the more diversity you can offer to a potential employer. The experiences that you have had during your studies, work experience or academic projects have all allowed you to develop a range of skills, many of which can be put to good use in any role.
  • Portability – The nature of transferable skills means they can be taken with you when you move jobs. As you progress, the skills that you currently have will improve and you will also gain new ones too.
  • Employability – Even if you have very little work experience, building a strong CV around your transferable skills will strengthen your chances of success. Although you may not have direct work experience, these transferable skills will demonstrate that you can adapt to new demands.

Emphasising Transferable Skills in Your CV or Interview

Once you have identified which transferable skills you have that match the requirements of the role you are applying for, ensure that you incorporate them into your CV and cover letter.

If you have very little work experience, then a functional CV focused on your skills rather than your experience would be more effective.

Demonstrate how you used your skills in a specific scenario – giving a brief synopsis of the situation, what you did and the outcome.

Try to make your CV achievements-focused.

Strategically place transferable skills throughout your CV, including in a brief professional summary section that describes you, your skills and your qualities in about six to seven lines at the top of the CV.

This is designed to catch the attention of the recruiter and encourage them to read further.

When it comes to the interview, you can expand on your CV in more detail, providing specific examples of when you demonstrated commercial awareness or solved a problem.

It’s one thing saying that you have a specific skill – demonstrating that you can use it effectively is another.

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