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What Are Transferable Skills?

By Tom Wilde


Whether you’re applying for your first job or you’re looking for a change in career, identifying your transferable skills are 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 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 job role and are gained through specific experience, whilst others are applicable to any job, in any industry. These widely applicable skills are what we refer to as transferable skills.

Many people think of transferable skills as ‘soft skills’ like communication and the ability to build and nurture relationships. But ‘hard skills’ can be transferable too. For example, data analysis would be considered a transferable skill.

Transferable skills are usually gained over time through any experience you have. Jobs, education, volunteer work and hobbies are all routes to gaining valuable 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 are incredibly valuable to employers.

They’re a great way to showcase everything you have to offer. Transferable skills demonstrate all the ways you can provide additional value to the business, over and above the basic requirements of the job.

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

Communicating your transferable skills as well as your technical skills can give you that competitive edge, help you stand out and make you the more attractive candidate.

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 they don’t have to worry - you’ll be able to hit the ground running and contribute to the business right away.

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 employees who can identify these problems and come up with realistic solutions to help improve their business.
  • 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: written communication, speaking, 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 to completion, encompassing a variety of skills such as communication, problem solving 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 or during education 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 management (another valuable transferable skill) and employers value staff members who can plan and visualise what needs to happen on a project from start to finish.

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.

If you’d like any further application advice, our expert recruitment consultants are happy to help you improve your CV and prepare for interviews.

And if you’re ready to apply for your next job, take a look at our current vacancies here, or upload your CV to find out about any upcoming jobs that match your skills and experience.


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