Finding a job description that perfectly aligns with your skill set is near impossible. The process becomes even harder when you’re trying to change job titles, break into a new industry, or boast an atypical career path.
But it’s likely you’ve read a job’s qualifications and thought, “I can do this,” despite the mismatch in what the hiring manager has listed as a must-have and your professional background. The job could still be yours; it’s just a matter of connecting your past experience to the new role. That’s where transferable skills come in.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills are talents and abilities you can apply to a variety of different jobs and industries.
For example, say you worked at a consumer-facing company in a customer service role and are trying to land a position at an information technology startup. While you might not be familiar with the intricacies of the technology or overarching IT field, you do know how to empathize with customers, actively listen to their concerns, communicate effectively, problem-solve on the fly, and negotiate needs. Those are all transferable skills, and that customer service experience can be translated to a variety of future employment settings.
What Are Examples of Transferable Skills?
The customer service example highlighted some transferable skills, such as communication, problem-solving, active listening, and conflict resolution.
Other transferable skills include:
- Leadership: Effective leaders know how to motivate colleagues, set goals, and delegate responsibilities. They also take initiative, are capable of making quick, albeit strategic decisions, and are confident that the choices they make will achieve their intended result.
- Time Management: Proving you can minimize distractions and prioritize tasks to meet deadlines is crucial to landing any role. Practice boosting your workplace productivity to improve your time management abilities.
- Teamwork: Teamwork is critical because it shows you can collaborate with others, respect co-workers’ opinions, and work toward common goals. Before stepping into a job interview, though, think through the role you typically play on a team, because it’s a common interview question that’s asked. For example, do you prefer to be the problem-solver or are you more successful at delegating?
- Creativity: Companies are constantly looking for unique approaches to solving problems. If you’re constantly dreaming up new slogans, logos, ideas, or products, emphasize that enthusiasm, because creativity could be exactly what the role requires.
- Analytical: Approximately five quintillion bytes of data are generated every day, and companies are looking for professionals who can help make sense of it all. Data analysts are in high demand across a range of industries, from healthcare and education to retail and the government. If you know how to collect, parse, and visualize data, you’ll be an asset to a wide variety of teams.
- Budgeting: There are costs and expenses no matter the company. Proving you can think through budgets and help handle financials will bolster your job prospects.
How Do I Highlight Transferable Skills on My Resumé?
If you’re updating your resumé but don’t know where to start, try mapping your past experience to the transferable skills listed above. What translates, and how can you quantify it?
The goal is to prove every skill you claim to have. Simply stating you’re a leader isn’t as impactful as saying you “managed a team of five employees, who generated a collective $900,000 in sales for the company.”
Show, don’t tell, your results. Whether it’s the number of deals you’ve closed, dollars you’ve raised, or articles you’ve written, describe your experience in numbers employers will understand.
Another option is to create a “Related Skills” section on your resumé, where you list your transferable skills, making them more easily identifiable to hiring managers. Reiterate those competencies throughout your resumé to further prove why you’re the right fit for the role.
The more you break down your past experience into these transferable skills, the easier it will be to envision future roles.