A Guide to Transferable Career Skills

By Alyssa Laffitte on November 14, 2020

Nowadays, many people have switched careers from one field to another. This switch might be intimidating since you are moving to a field where you might not have much experience. However, throughout your life experience, you likely have picked up many skills that will help you in your new industry. These skills are called transferable skills.

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What are Transferable Skills?

Before we dive further into the article, let’s define “transferable skills.” Some highly specialized skills are useful in only one type of job. Specialized skills are important, but they are not transferable to another career. Transferable skills, in contrast, are skills that can be used across different roles or industries. For example, skills like content creation, public speaking, leadership, time management, and problem-solving are useful in almost any job. In other words, these skills are valuable and necessary in multiple lines of work. Employers value employees who have these kinds of skills. Whether you work in an office or a lab, having a good set of transferable skills makes you a strong employee. Everyone should seek to develop many transferable skills since these skills will be useful across many different jobs, roles, positions, and industries.

The Importance of Transferable Skills

As I stated before, transferable skills are important for everyone to develop. Developing transferable skills is important particularly for two groups of people: those who are looking to switch careers and those who are just entering the workforce. Transferable skills are important for those who are looking to switch careers because they need to show their new employer that they have the skills necessary to do a job in a new field. Someone might be new to a certain industry, but if they have transferable skills that apply to that industry, they could still do an excellent job. For example, if someone moves from a receptionist job to a sales job, they can use their communication skills and people skills to help them be successful in their new sales job because those skills are transferable.

Additionally, transferable skills are important for recent graduates who are entering the workforce for the first time. Through their life experience and their education, these people have gained skills that will help them in an entry-level job. For example, someone who led a student organization in college can say they have leadership and organizational skills that will help them in their first job.

Clearly, transferable skills are important, but they are especially so if you are looking to switch careers or if you are a recent graduate entering the workforce for the first time.

Identifying Transferable Skills You Already Have

Just taking from your life experience, you likely already have many transferable skills that will be useful in many jobs. Depending on the industry you want to move into, you should focus on different transferable skills. To determine which skills are most important to your new industry, you should look up job descriptions for open positions in your new industry. You could also ask people who already work there what kind of skills they find themselves using the most for their job. Doing these things will give you a better idea of what skills you already have that will be useful in this new industry, and also what skills you need to develop.

Additionally, you can take some time to really think about your life experience and education. What skills have you learned in internships, student organizations, volunteer experiences, and in your classes? As you consider this, think specifically about any hard skills or soft skills you might have gained through all these experiences. Hard skills (technical skills), like programs or software, can be transferable skills, just as soft skills, like communication and people skills.

Thinking about transferable skills you already have is a great place to start moving into a new industry.

Advertising Your Transferable Skills During Your Job Search

As you apply for jobs, your transferable skills will need to come through in your application process. Having a strong set of transferable skills will make you a better candidate for the job. One way to demonstrate your transferable skills in your application process is to give examples. You can give examples of instances in which you used your transferable skills. For instance, tell about a time when you successfully led a team on a project. An interview is the best place to tell these kinds of stories. Another way to showcase your transferable skills is to list them on your resume. You can have a “skills” section on your resume in which you list transferable skills and any specific skills you have that would be useful for the job you are applying for. These transferable skills are especially important if you don’t have much experience in the industry. When you let potential employers know about the skills you have, you show them you will be a good candidate for the job.

23, ISFJ. Biology student. College lifestyle blogger. Avid reader and writer. Dog lover. Nerd. Boyband enthusiast. Superhero in training. Here to help you become the best you can be!

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