Transferable skills are abilities that can be used across different jobs, industries, and roles. These skills make you adaptable and flexible as an employee. Understanding your transferable skills is key to showcasing your strengths on a resume, in an interview, or when changing careers. Keep reading to learn more about what transferable skills are, why they are so important, and examples of key transferable skills you likely already have!
Transferable Skills Definition
Transferable skills are skills you have developed through education, work experience, volunteering, or life experiences that can be applied or transferred from one role to another. These are skills that are not job-specific but are valuable across different industries, job levels, and roles.
Some key characteristics of transferable skills:
- Applicable across various jobs and industries
- Portable – you take these skills with you
- Broadly relevant – not role or job-specific
- Universally desirable by employers
- Built over time through experience
The most sought-after transferable skills allow you to adapt to new work environments quickly. Having these skills makes you a flexible, promotable employee.
What are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills are general abilities and competencies that enable you to perform well across different jobs and settings. Unlike job-specific skills that are tailored to a particular role, transferable skills are versatile skills that you can take with you wherever you go.
Here are some examples of transferable skills:
- Communication skills – written, verbal, listening, presentation
- Interpersonal skills – teamwork, collaboration, empathy
- Leadership – motivating others, delegation, initiative
- Problem-solving – critical thinking, analysis, quick decision making
- Time management – prioritizing, meeting deadlines, efficiency
- Adaptability – performing in new environments, flexibility
- Creativity – innovative thinking, coming up with ideas
- Attention to detail – accuracy, thoroughness, organization
Transferable skills are sometimes called soft skills or portable skills. These are abilities that enable you to thrive in any workplace. Unlike hard skills that are specific to a particular job, transferable skills help you excel no matter where you go in your career.
Why are Transferable Skills Important?
Understanding and developing your transferable skills is extremely important for several reasons:
- Transferable skills make you adaptable – With strong transferable skills, you can thrive in any new job or situation even if you don’t have all the required hard skills or experience. You can learn on the job.
- They showcase your key strengths – Highlighting your transferable skills on your resume and in interviews tells employers about your core competencies as a candidate. This shows what unique value you can bring.
- Versatility – Transferable skills never go out of demand. Having these portable, versatile skills makes you employable across industries.
- Promotability – Workers who demonstrate strong transferable skills are much more likely to get promotions and advance in their careers. These skills showcase leadership potential.
- Changing careers – Transferable skills enable easier career transitions between different fields. Your communication or problem-solving skills suit you for new roles.
- Ongoing demand – Transferable skills like collaboration and flexibility will always be sought after by employers as workplaces and jobs evolve.
The bottom line is transferable skills allow you to continuously progress in your career. Employers highly value these portable skills because it means you can adapt and contribute value right away.
List of Transferable Skills – 20 Key Skills
Here is an extensive list of the top transferable skills employers look for. Which of these do you have currently? Which can you start highlighting and demonstrating moving forward?
- Verbal communication – clear speaking and phone skills
- Written communication – writing reports, emails, and letters clearly
- Active listening – paying close attention to others
- Giving effective presentations – presenting confidently and skillfully
- Nonverbal communication – interpreting body language, eye contact
- Teamwork and collaboration – working well in a group
- Empathy and emotional intelligence – understanding others
- Cultural sensitivity – appreciating diverse perspectives
- Networking abilities – building strong relationships
- Conflict resolution – facilitating compromise and cooperation
- Delegating tasks – utilizing people’s strengths
- Motivating and inspiring others – bringing out the best in people
- Initiative – taking action without waiting for direction
- Coaching/mentoring skills – guiding others’ development
- Influence/persuasion – convincing others through reasoning
Organization and productivity:
- Time management – managing schedules and meeting deadlines
- Multi-tasking – handling multiple responsibilities
- Critical thinking – evaluating information rationally
- Problem-solving – implementing solutions for challenges
- Decision making – weighing options to choose the best course of action
Adaptability and continuous learning:
- Creativity – thinking outside the box, innovative mindset
- Flexibility – adapting quickly to new situations
- Lifelong learning – actively improving through new knowledge and skills
Other key transferable skills:
- Research skills – finding and analyzing information
- Project management – handling initiatives from start to finish
- People management – supervising, managing, and motivating staff
- Stress management – remaining calm under pressure
- Tech savvy – learning new programs quickly
- Data analysis – interpreting and presenting statistics
Transferable Skills Examples – 10 Skills in Action
It’s one thing to read a list of transferable skills – it’s another to see them in action. Here are 10 examples demonstrating these crucial skills:
- Communication – Rahul always writes clear, organized emails summarizing action items and next steps when coordinating projects between departments.
- Teamwork – Eva frequently volunteers for cross-department committees at work to bring fresh perspectives through collaboration.
- Leadership – As shift manager, Amit delegates tasks among employees based on their strengths and coaches them through obstacles.
- Creative thinking – When the marketing campaign stalled, Ankita came up with an innovative viral video concept that excited customers.
- Time management – Jakir excels at using calendars and task lists to balance multiple projects and meet all deadlines.
- Problem-solving – The customer service issue confused everyone, but Rajnish came up with a simple, practical solution.
- Adaptability – Though Sandhya lacked experience in the role, she quickly mastered all new systems and processes through dedication.
- Critical thinking – As a project manager, Rahim asks insightful questions to analyze issues rationally before acting.
- Attention to detail – Lakshmi carefully proofreads all documents to produce polished, error-free materials for clients.
- Conflict resolution – When disagreement occurs in her team, Riya listens to all viewpoints and finds fair compromises.
Observe coworkers who excel in different areas – you can learn transferable skills just by modeling their behavior on the job.
Teacher Transferable Skills
Teachers develop versatile transferable skills through their invaluable work educating and mentoring students. Here are key transferable skills teachers gain:
- Patience – Teachers must patiently work with all students’ individual needs. This trait transfers well to any service, healthcare, or customer-facing role.
- Communication – From presenting lessons to handling parent discussions, teachers build great verbal and written communication abilities. This transfers anywhere.
- Creativity – Designing engaging lesson plans requires continual creativity. Bring this creative mindset to enliven any new role.
- Empathy – Connecting with students of diverse backgrounds fosters empathy. Apply this emotional intelligence to forge relationships and understand colleagues.
- Leadership – Leading a classroom calls for leadership skills like mentoring, motivating, and guiding students’ progress. These abilities directly translate to formal management positions.
- Multitasking – Juggling lesson planning, grading, parent outreach, and managing a classroom simultaneously develops stellar multitasking skills. These skills allow you to thrive in any fast-paced work environment.
- Problem-solving – Teachers constantly address challenges innovatively to find solutions. Apply this same problem-solving approach to resolve issues in new jobs.
The bottom line is teachers develop versatility through their complex role. Highlight your specialized transferable skills during interviews and on your resume.
Transferable Skills Checklist
Here is a simple checklist of the 10 most common transferable skills employers seek. Evaluate which skills you already possess and which you can work on developing:
❏ Communication – write and speak clearly to convey ideas effectively
❏ Teamwork – collaborate productively with diverse groups and teammates
❏ Leadership – motivate and guide others to accomplish goals
❏ Time management – handle multiple responsibilities and prioritize tasks systematically to meet deadlines
❏ Problem-solving – analyze issues rationally to formulate practical solutions
❏ Adaptability – adjust quickly to new workflows, systems, and responsibilities
❏ Creativity – apply innovative thinking to come up with fresh ideas and new approaches
❏ Organization – maintain orderly systems to efficiently access needed information and resources
❏ Initiative – work independently with self-direction and proactivity
❏ Detail orientation – precisely check work to produce consistently high-quality deliverables
Aim to develop the transferable skills you are still building. Ask managers if you can take on roles to showcase these abilities. Then highlight your verified transferable skills during interviews.
FAQs on Transferable Skills
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about transferable skills:
Q: Is teamwork a transferable skill?
A: Yes. Being able to collaborate productively as part of a team is a highly sought-after transferable skill. Highlight your ability to build relationships, handle team dynamics, and cooperate towards shared goals.
Q: Should I list transferable skills on my resume?
A: Definitely – listing about 5-6 transferable skills on your resume (in a skills section) lets employers quickly see your capabilities. Tailor which transferable skills you include to match the target job.
Q: How do I identify my transferable skills?
A: Review past jobs, volunteer work, school experiences, and hobbies. Make a master list of every skill used. Cross off role-specific skills. The remaining versatile skills that apply across multiple experiences are your transferable skills.
Q: How can I demonstrate transferable skills in an interview?
A: Use examples like “Tell me about a time you used persuasion skills to convince a team to adopt your proposed solution.” Share a story highlighting how you successfully applied a transferable skill on the job.
Q: Why should I develop transferable skills early in my career?
A: Establishing transferable skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving early on makes you adaptable for many career pivots and advancements down the road. These core skills always remain relevant.
Developing your transferable skills is essential for opening up more job opportunities now and ongoing adaptability in the future. Take inventory of the versatile, cross-applicable skills you have built through education, work, volunteering, and life experiences.
Highlight the transferable skills that align with the roles you apply for. Employers highly value these portable skills because they know you can immediately adapt and contribute value as an employee. With transferable skills, you can pivot across careers and demonstrate promotability. Continue building these crucial skills – they will serve you well wherever your career takes you!
Video credit – Gro Up Leadership