top of page
Transferable Skills.png

Transferable Skills




Transferable skills are skills that aren't narrowly connected to one particular job or field. They are skills, qualities and aptitudes that are useful in many jobs. For example, being able to write well is a "skill" that's useful in a variety of jobs; being analytical is a "quality" that only some people have and it's useful in many careers; and having an ability to quickly learn new software programs is an "aptitude" that is essential to almost all jobs and organizations in our technology-oriented world.




It's important to understand the value of transferable skills and to clearly identify the many transferable skills that you almost certainly have. There are many reasons for this.


First, when we apply for new jobs, we may not have every skill that the employer prefers. But if we have relevant transferable skills, that can strengthen our application. For example, suppose a prospective employer "prefers" (but does not require) that you know a software program called Squarespace. You don't know that program, but you've quickly learned many different software programs at prior jobs - and it's something you love doing. In fact, you had to quickly learn a program called WordPress at your last job because your employer needed a new webmaster for the organization's site. The fact that you're able to easily learn other software programs is a transferable skill -- and it's even more helpful that you enjoy learning new software. Thus, you can confidently include that information in your communication with the prospective employer.


Transferable skills are also important for people who don't yet have a lot of job experience. Many other aspects of life (e.g. school, volunteer work, hobbies, competitive sports, travel, running a household) all require skills -- and many of those skills are transferable to jobs. For example, suppose you don't have a long work history, but for several years, you volunteered for an animal welfare organization. One year, you helped organize a local walkathon that raised $30,000 for the organization. Clearly, that project required analytical skills; organizational abilities; an eye for detail; communication skills; problem-solving; computer abilities; financial management; networking, etc. All of those abilities are transferable to jobs.


Similarly, being aware of one's transferable skills is important for people who already have a work history but who want to completely change careers. It's important to think about all the skills you've used during the course of your professional life and determine which of those skills are transferable to the new career path.


QUICK TIP #1: Remember that even a skill that doesn't seem transferable may have transferable elements. That was revealed in the example above about the person who knew WordPress but didn't know Squarespace. Even though WordPress wouldn't directly apply to the new job that she's seeking, her proven ability to quickly learn new software programs and her great enthusiasm for that learning process are very transferable to other jobs.


QUICK TIP #2: Many (though certainly not all) transferable skills are "soft" skills (e.g. organizational abilities, multi-tasking, problem-solving). Thus, you need to be able to communicate specific ways in which you demonstrated those skills in various situations. For example, if you're a good problem-solver, it's not enough to simply say that. Think about a real problem that you successfully solved and figure out how to briefly talk about that during an interview. What was the problem, what steps did you take to solve it, and in what way was the outcome successful?




Please take a look at the website links below. Each link takes you to an article that talks about transferable skills and how to detail those skills in application materials and during interviews. The articles also provide a variety of links to other information on the topic.



Note: We aren't endorsing every detail that these sites provide (and they may not fully agree with each other on some points). But each of the sites contains a lot of valuable information. 


The Muse on Transferable Skills


Seek on Transferable Skills


Indeed on Transferable Skills


Indeed on Communication Skills

bottom of page