Transferable Skills to List on Your Resume
“I am interested in applying for a job, but I am not sure if I have the right skills and experience to stand out in the job application process.”
If this sentiment is going through your mind, don’t worry: you’re not alone. Often, when you’re applying for a new job, you may feel as though you do not have a specific set of skills that are required for a position. That’s where transferable skills come in.
In this guide, we discuss the basics of transferable skills and walk through a few examples of transferable skills you can highlight on your resume.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills are qualities that you have learned on one job that can be used on another job. If you’ve spent any time in the professional workforce—or even in a structured educational environment—you should have a few of these skills.
These skills, sometimes called “portable” skills, are the skills you have that are not bound to any particular industry. For instance, being organized is a transferable skill because it applies to many different jobs. Accountants, for example, need to be just as organized as office managers.
While transferable skills are soft skills—skills that are not acquired through technical instruction—and are harder to measure, these skills are still valuable for employers.
Having a wide range of transferable skills will allow you to showcase your value to an organization by showing what you have learned from your previous positions. As a result, you can use transferable skills to fill in any gaps that exist in your skillset. This is especially useful if you are applying for a job in a new industry.
What Are Some Examples of a Transferable Skill?
Now that you know what a transferable skill is, you may be wondering: what does a transferable skill look like? Here are a few common transferable skills that employers look out for.
No matter what job you work in—whether you are a computer programmer or a salesperson—being able to effectively manage your time is a useful skill.
Suppose you worked in a restaurant in college. This environment will have required good time management skills, because orders will need to be sent out at a certain time. Or if you have worked as a junior accountant, you will likely have had deadlines by which certain projects have been due.
Employers value people who are able to effectively manage their time and break up projects into smaller parts to ensure they can deliver on their commitments.
Being a strong communicator is highly valued by employers. Having good communication skills — such as being able to write well, knowing when to ask questions, and being a good listener — will help you work more effectively with others, thereby allowing you to be a more productive worker.
Suppose you worked in an office environment in your last job. Because offices are highly collaborative environments, you’ll likely have exercised communication skills in a variety of instances. Or if you worked in retail, you’ll have acquired experience talking with the public and getting to know the needs of customers.
Do you follow through on all your commitments? If so, you have the quality of dependability, which is highly valued by employers in all industries.
In business, people want to work with those who accomplish the tasks assigned to them in the time they have been given. These people are seen to be more trustworthy and reliable, because when they commit to a task, their team members know it will be finished on time.
If you maintain a good structure in your workplace, meet deadlines, and keep track of tasks effectively, you are likely to have good organizational skills.
Organizational skills are important to employers because the more organized you are, the more likely you are to follow through on all your commitments. In addition, people who are organized are less likely to forget critical information, which could result in inefficiencies that cost a business time and money.
Strong leaders are people who are able to manage others well, communicate effectively, and build relationships with others.
While it can be difficult to name what makes you a good leader, one strategy you can use is to cite an example of when you have demonstrated leadership.
Have you led a project in your working career? Have you worked on a side project or a hobby over which you had control, such as leading a sports team or holding an executive position at a club? Have you had to work to motivate members of a team on a big project? All of these scenarios would require leadership skills to some degree.
Businesses change quickly — that’s the nature of the game. In order to stay competitive, businesses will launch new products, or change existing ones, on a frequent basis. In addition, as businesses mature, they often undergo a wide range of organizational changes.
Employers highly value people who are flexible and are willing to let go of old ways of accomplishing goals in favor of new approaches. For instance, if you are able to quickly learn a new skill that is needed for your job, you would be practicing the skill of adaptability.
Suppose you have two tasks that require your attention. Which one should you work on? If you are able to effectively prioritize tasks, you have a skill that is in demand by employers.
On your resume, you may want to mention an example of when you had a heavy workload and had to prioritize your work in order to follow through on all your commitments.
For instance, you could mention how you had to adjust your schedule and evaluate the importance of a wide range of tasks when you were particularly busy at one point in your last job. Or you could discuss how you have used time management techniques to help you make better use of your time, and learn more about how much time you could devote to certain tasks.
How Do I Showcase My Transferable Skills?
So, we all have transferable skills to some degree, even if we acquired them through our time in school or through side hustles like being a member of a club. But, you may be asking yourself: how do I showcase my unique transferable skills?
You can mention transferable skills in a number of positions on your resume.
First, you could mention your transferable skills in the biography that comes at the start of your resume. Here is an example of transferable skills being cited in a resume biography:
“Dedicated accountant with four years experience applying organizational skills to tackle difficult accounting problems with multiple stakeholders.”
The transferable skills you mention in this section of your resume should only be cited briefly. This is because the biography section of a resume typically lasts one or two sentences, thus leaving you very little room to explain your transferable skills in depth.
Second, you can mention your transferable skills on your list of skills in your resume. This section — which is not a part of every resume, but can be helpful to include — is devoted specifically to the hard and soft skills that you hold.
For instance, if you are organized and reliable, you could mention these two skills in your skills list on your resume. Here is an example skills list on a resume for an account manager job:
- Experience using Salesforce CRM
- Strategic thinking
- Experience with LinkedIn
- Experience with Microsoft Office
In addition, you could mention your transferable skills in the employment history section of your resume. In this section, you’ll have more room to discuss your prior employment as well as the main goals you accomplished in certain roles in which you have worked.
Here is an example of an accomplishment you could mention in your employment history section:
“Practiced leadership skills when I successfully conducted a training program for our newest batch of sales assistants in Q1’20.”
This statement tells an employer that you had to practice creative thinking and leadership skills, because you were responsible for taking charge over a project.
Transferable skills are the core skills you have which can be applied to a range of different fields and jobs.
If you believe you are not fully qualified for a job — or are just looking to make your resume sound more impressive — mentioning the transferable skills you have can be useful. These skills, such as organization and dependability, are in high demand by employers, and will allow you to present your character to an employer in your resume.
By following the guidance in this article, you’ll be in a good position to mention your transferable skills effectively on your resume.