11 months ago by Zoe Houghton

What Are Transferable Skills?


Whether you’re entering the next stage of your career, or are looking for a change, identifying your transferable skills can be crucial in helping you land a new job.

Everyone has transferable skills that can help them in a new role. But knowing how to identify your most valuable skills, why they’re important and how to apply them to the position you’re applying for will give you a competitive edge. 

What are transferable skills?

All jobs require a variety of skills - some are specific to the role and are gained through training and specific experience. Whereas others are applicable to a wide range of jobs and industries - these are what we refer to as transferable skills. 

Many people think of transferable skills as ‘soft skills’ like great communication and the ability to build and nurture relationships. These are valuable transferable skills that will benefit you in any role you apply for, but ‘hard skills’ can be transferable too. For example, data analysis would be considered a transferable skill. 

Transferable skills are usually gained naturally over time, through your experience both in and out of work. Alongside your past work experience, education, volunteering and hobbies are all routes to gaining important transferable skills. 

What’s the difference between transferable and technical skills? 

Technical skills on the other hand, are the particular abilities needed to complete more specialised tasks. Technical skills are job or industry specific, and are gained through relevant work experience, and often require training. You typically need to be intentional about developing technical skills, whereas transferable skills may be developed naturally. 

Why are transferable skills important? 

There’s a common mistake that candidates make where they focus entirely on job-specific knowledge and technical skills when applying for a new position, and forget to showcase their transferable skills. But transferable skills can be equally as valuable to an employer when choosing who to bring on board. 

Highlighting your transferable skills is an effective way to showcase everything you have to offer. They help you demonstrate all the ways you can provide additional value to the business, over and above the essential requirements of the role. 

For example, let’s say you’ve applied for a job, and another applicant has very similar work experience and technical ability to you. 

Communicating your transferable skills as well as your technical skills can give you that competitive edge, showing that you are a strong candidate who can contribute to areas of the business outside of their core tasks. 

Transferable skills can help you stand out from the competition and show the hiring manager that you are the best candidate for the job. 

Examples of transferable skills

Identifying which transferable skills you have can help you strengthen your CV and give you more to talk about during an interview. 

All transferable skills are valuable, and every candidate is likely to have a whole host of abilities that they can speak about. But some skills are more sought after than others, as they show the employer that you’ll be able to hit the ground running and contribute to the business from day one. 

Knowing which skills an employer is likely to value the most, and putting the focus on them, will help you stand out. 

So here are some of the most in-demand skills to include in your application, to turn you from a good candidate into an invaluable asset to their business. 

  • Problem solving: this is relevant in every job and every industry. No matter what you do, at some point you’re going to run into challenges or inefficiencies. Employers value team members who can identify these problems and come up with realistic solutions to help improve their business. And if you can identify potential blockers and find a solution before they impact the business, you will prove yourself to be even more valuable. 
  • Communication: in any workplace, you will need the ability to communicate effectively with managers, colleagues and customers. There are four main areas of communication that you can focus on: verbal communication, written communication, active listening and presentation skills. 
  • Leadership: leadership skills go beyond supervising and managing a team (although this is valuable experience that goes a long way in any industry). It also involves your ability to lead a project and see it through from kick off to completion, encompassing a variety of skills such as communication, problem solving, research and analysis, and relationship building. 
  • Research and analysis: most roles involve some degree of research and analysis, so this is a great skill to make employers aware of. Any form of gathering, organising and evaluating information at work can demonstrate research and analytical skills.
  • Project management: project management can be related to leadership, but focuses on your ability to manage tasks from start to finish. It involves time and budget management (more valuable transferable skills) and employers are always looking for individuals who can visualise and implement a plan of action to reach an ambitious objective.

Whether you’re entering a new career path or just want to strengthen your application, showcasing your transferable skills and communicating all the ways you can offer value outside of technical ability is key.

Our specialist recruitment consultants are dedicated to making sure your next career move is a success. If you would like any further advice on strengthening your CV or preparing for an interview, we’re here to help. 

Or if you’re ready to enter the next stage of your career, see our available job vacancies here, or get in touch for more information about how we can assist you in your job search.