Transferable Skills

Being aware of what skills you bring to the table for a job is an important asset in career assessment. The list of skills you own, though, is probably much larger than you realize, mainly due to the transferable skills you have picked up over the years. Transferable skills are skills we obtain throughout life, starting in childhood that can be taken with us to our next job.  

The three basic categories of transferable skills are those involved in working with people (selling, teaching, entertaining), those that come from working with objects (repairing, designing, keyboarding), and those developed from working with information and data (accounting, editing, writing). Transferable skills could have been obtained in the elementary school classroom, on a high school sports team, or at a corporate job.

Transferable skills are important for career assessment because they can be used at almost any job. Of the three basic transferable skills, every career you start will require you to have at least one of them. There are some careers that may require you to use all these skills properly. It must also be emphasized that most of us are better with some transferable skills when compared to others. Learning how to identify your proficiency in these skills is important, as it is directly connected to your ability to choose a career which is perfectly adapted to them.

Identifying Your Transferable Skills

Since you have so many transferable skills that have come from all walks of your life, it’s important to learn how to properly identify them (later on you can narrow the list down to the skills that would be beneficial at a particular job). To get started, make a list of every job, affiliation, and leadership role you’ve ever had. Then take your college transcript and go through all your classes that can even be remotely connected to a career of interest.

From there, write a sentence involving each job, affiliation, leadership role, and college class you’ve written down using an action word that helps describe a skill you gained. The action word should not be something generic like "I learned how to pitch a softball" or "I gained experience using a computer." Rather, it should be in the form of something like "I gathered listings from various companies" or "I wrote scripts for school plays".

Figuring Out Which Careers Best Utilize Your Transferable Skills

To discover which types of careers and available jobs use your transferable skills, there are many resources that can help. One is anyone who has experience in the field you are looking at. Through their tales of job experience, you will most likely see whether or not you are qualified for a similar job. Another great resource is job classifieds. Even if you aren’t going to apply for the position, job advertisements give you a good idea in clear print what the main skills are that different types of jobs look for.

If you look under subheadings such as "qualifications", "job duties", and "job description", you can find blurbs that match certain skills you own. Actual employers are another wonderful way to come across job possibilities that use your skills. If you have a chance to talk with an employer, seize it, because they can inform you of the types of job in their field and will give you a better idea what the expectations are. Job fairs are probably the most common way to get in touch with an employer.

Selling Transferable Skills When Applying For a Job

In resumes, cover letters, and the actual job interview, it’s important to convey as many of your transferable skills as possible as being useful in the job you’re applying for. This is even more important if you are switching to a much different career than the one you most recently held. For instance, if you want a job in finance and most recently worked in education, you don’t want your resume to continually remind the employer of your last job by highlighting things such as class planning, working with kids, and organizing field trips.

Rather, the resume should emphasize transferable skills such as knowledge in mathematics, interpersonal relationships with various staff members, and experience with computers. Also, the job applicant can be creative with words and portray some of his/her former duties as being parallel with the activities he/she will be performing at this much different job. For instance, a former lifeguard wanting to be a mall security officer can tell the hirer, in an interview, that he/she has experience "watching over a large space to make sure nothing dangerous took place or that no rules were broken".

Editorial Team at Geekinterview is a team of HR and Career Advice members led by Chandra Vennapoosa.

Editorial Team – who has written posts on Online Learning.

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