Transferable skills are qualities that can be used across different jobs and industries. You may already possess several transferable skills like communication, creativity and computer literacy, that employers look for. Highlighting your transferable skills in your CV increases your employability and helps you stand out from other candidates. In this article, we define transferable skills, explore their importance and list some of the top transferable skills to include in your CV.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are the skills you can transfer across a wide variety of careers and industries. For example, communication skills are transferable skills because you can use them in different jobs like teaching, sales, marketing, career counselling, legal advice, human resources and customer service. Other examples of transferable skills include organisation, planning, teamwork, adaptability, creativity, leadership, analytical, problem-solving, motivation and honesty.
Most transferable skills are soft skills that cannot be quantified. You either possess them naturally or learn them over a long period of time. They are often a part of your personality. For example, if you have a flair for problem-solving, you are bound to be a problem-solver irrespective of the area you choose to work in.
Sometimes, a technical skill becomes so common that it may be used across a wide range of jobs. Such technical skills also fall under transferable skills. For example, the ability to operate a computer is an essential requirement in most modern jobs. Whether you are working in research, analysis, HR, accounts or finance, you should know how to use a computer to manage your work. Hence, computer skills are also transferable skills despite being technical in nature.
Employers often prefer to recruit candidates that have good transferable skills.
Read more: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume
Why are transferable skills important?
Transferable skills are important for the following reasons:
- They help you in securing a new job. Transferable skills highlight your potential. They help you persuade the employer that you are the right candidate for a given position. You should identify the transferable skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for and highlight them on your CV.
- They make you versatile. You can apply your transferable skills to a wide variety of jobs. This enables you to perform a number of related tasks in addition to your core responsibilities. For example, if you are good at conflict resolution, you can help resolve disputes and misunderstandings at your workplace even though that may not be a part of your job. This is another reason why employers prefer candidates with transferable skills.
- You acquire them naturally. Although you can improve your transferable skills with training, you largely learn them naturally. You need not spend money or attend classes to acquire transferable skills. Your social and personal experiences at home, work and elsewhere in life contribute to your transferable skills.
- They stay with you long term. Irrespective of where you work and what you do, you can continually keep developing your transferable skills. As you move from one job to another, they keep accumulating. No one can take away your transferable skills from you.
Transferrable skills for CV
The exact transferable skills to include in your CV depend on what skills you possess and how relevant they are to the job that you are applying. Here are some popular transferable skills that employers usually look for:
Communication skill is the ability to express your ideas and information before others. It also includes your listening skills and how well you can understand others. We use different modes of communication in our daily lives, such as spoken words (verbal), written messages and body language (non-verbal). You are communicating verbally when speaking over the phone, imparting classroom training or having a face-to-face conversation. Similarly, text messages, letters, emails and notices are examples of written communication, whereas facial expressions, sitting posture, walking style and hand movements while speaking fall under non-verbal communication.
Good communication is essential irrespective of your job role. It enables you to ask questions in an appropriate manner, understand what others are trying to say through their body language and present your views in a polite and courteous manner. It helps you come across as a friendly person and makes it easy to work with others. Jobs involving collaborative efforts require a higher degree of communication skills.
Teamwork skills enable you to work and collaborate with others in order to accomplish a common goal. Teamwork skills are also essential for common activities and events like group meetings, feedback sessions, trainings and conferences. Having good teamwork skills implies that you are comfortable working with others in a team.
Effective teamwork includes a number of qualities like empathy, communication, collaboration, motivation and active listening. However, the most essential quality is to appreciate the diversity of team members and respect others' opinions. Highlighting your teamwork skills in the CV reassures the recruiter that you can work amicably with your colleagues and managers.
Leadership is the ability to influence, motivate and lead others towards a set goal. Leaders organise teams, take the initiative and delegate authority. As a leader, you need to be good in communication, supervision, decision-making, problem-solving and time management.
After reaching a certain stage in your career, you would need some aspect of leadership in almost all the jobs. For example, leadership qualities may be less relevant when you start your career as a programmer. However, you would need more of leadership skills as you progress in your career and start managing a team of programmers as a team lead or project manager.
In order to develop leadership skills for higher positions, start taking initiatives to solve problems, manage projects and motivate people in your workplace as early as possible.
You may often face unexpected situations in your career where you need to find a solution by yourself. Problem-solving is the aptitude to apply logic and creativity to deal with a difficult situation. Having problem-solving skills makes you more reliable and less dependent on others. As an effective problem solver, you can also help your colleagues and team members at your workplace. This reduces the workload on managers and provides for a smooth workflow. This is what makes problem-solving a transferable skill across all positions.
Adaptability refers to your ability to adjust yourself to a new environment. There may be changes in your work environment due to several reasons like technology upgradation, client instructions and process fine-tuning. Sometimes, a job may be inherently agile, for instance, one that involves completing short-term projects from different clients. Hence, employers prefer candidates with a flexible mindset, who can adapt quickly to new changes.
Analytical skills enable you to analyse data and interpret information in order to make it more useful for a given purpose. They also help you analyse a situation to make an informed decision. Employees with analytical skills improve the overall productivity of a workplace by solving problems in a timely manner. Hence, it may be helpful to include the ability to research, analyse and find an ideal solution in your CV.
As an employee, you need to complete your assignments in time. Effective time management helps you meet the deadlines. Common time management techniques include prioritising, multitasking, scheduling and delegating of tasks. You can elaborate your time management skills in your CV through specific examples of your past achievements. Think about the situations when you effectively arranged resources and proactively avoided distractions to achieve your objectives within a set deadline.
Organisation brings order, efficiency and clarity to your work. Organisational skills may show up through the neatness of your workplace, the way you organise information (e.g., notes, reports and folders) or the way you plan your tasks (e.g., prioritising and scheduling). Organisational skills help you with multitasking and timely completion of assigned tasks. Employees with good organisational skills help the company save time and money, while consistently achieving results.
Creativity refers to your imaginative power. A creative person can visualise a situation from several different perspectives. Creativity helps you generate new ideas, approach regular tasks in a different way and find solutions to complex problems. Employees with good creative thinking can also help the company identify new opportunities. For example, a creative employee working in sales may suggest new product features to take advantage of an untapped opportunity.
Interpersonal skills are the social skills we use while interacting with people in our everyday life. They help you build and maintain good relationships at your workplace. Employees with good interpersonal skills tend to manage their emotions better and work well with others.
Computers have pervaded all jobs and industries. Whichever area you work in, you can use computers to perform your duties more efficiently. Employers often expect the candidates to be able to use computers and information technology tools effectively in their job. Hence, wherever suitable, consider highlighting your computer skills and ability to learn new software and technology related to your role.