What Are Transferable Skills? 15 Great Examples

Changing careers has shown to open doors to incredible opportunities: The opportunity to earn more, align your career with your life goals, find better work-life balance and do things that make you feel fulfilled. Yet many people are scared of switching to a different career because they feel they will have to start from absolute scratch. What they don’t realize is no matter what job you have been doing, there is always some set of skills that you can transfer to your new career.

Key Takeaways

Changing careers has shown to open doors to incredible opportunities: The opportunity to earn more, align your career with your life goals, find better work-life balance and do things that make you feel fulfilled. Yet many people are scared of switching to a different career because they feel they will have to start from absolute scratch. What they don’t realize is no matter what job you have been doing, there is always some set of skills that you can transfer to your new career.

These ‘transferable’ skills combined with an excellent personal narrative can help you build a job-winning resume and get a foot in the door for that new career. In this guide, we will show you 15 great examples of transferable skills that you can acquire at any job.

When changing careers we are sometimes obsessed with the skills we lack for the job we want while ignoring the many skills we already have that could help. 

Savvy career changers instead focus on the many transferable skills they acquired over their professional career and use them to help build a good case for that job interview.

Along with selecting the ideal organizations and roles to apply for, you should think about how to update your resumé in a way that shows hiring managers the value you can bring to their company. 

Depending on the type of career change, this may mean devising creative ways to translate the tasks you currently perform to better align with the responsibilities you anticipate in your new assignment.

However, in real life, changing careers means tasks and job descriptions will rarely match completely. Instead, when building your resumé think in terms of skills rather than tasks. Ask yourself, "What skills do I use in my current role that could be useful in my next?" 

We have an excellent series of articles to help you switch careers at specific points in your life. Make sure you go through the one that applies to you. Here is how to switch careers when you are in your: 20s, 30s, and 40s.

The skills you uncover in this activity are referred to as "transferable skills," and understanding how to recognize them can have a significant impact on your job hunt.

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What exactly are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are skills that can be used in any job, regardless of any position or industry. These transferable skills can be divided into hard and soft skills.

  • Examples of hard transferable skills are being able to use the cash register, Adobe Photoshop, math skills, or any other technical skills.
  • Examples of soft skills, on the other hand, are communication, team building, relationship development, etc.

Consider transferable skills to be part of your professional toolkit. Transferable skills are what every worker gains over the years from each employment experience, including volunteering, internships, freelancing jobs, and more. They are talents that can be applied in any professional context.

As an example, let’s say you are a math teacher and you want to apply for a job that is completely different from what you are currently doing,... let’s say a Corporate Trainer. Now at first glance, both jobs have nothing in common, the tasks a teacher is assigned to do are very different from the tasks a corporate trainer has to do.

Now instead let’s think in terms of skills. As a teacher you already possess good communication skills having dealt with a large number of students on a daily basis. You probably have also honed many other skills like leadership, training, negotiation, writing, listening, motivation, evaluating others’ work, etc.

All these transferable skills are relevant and applicable to doing your job as a Corporate Trainer!

Incidentally, if you are a teacher in real life and are looking to change careers, here is a list of high-paying careers you could switch to from teaching.

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The value of transferable skills

Transferable skills might be worth their weight in gold on your CV or resume. Even if you don't technically meet all of the job standards, you might be able to persuade a recruiter that you're the ideal fit for the job based purely on your transferable skills. 

By smartly using these skills you are expressing that you can add value and contribute significantly to the job by being able to handle a variety of duties and projects, as well as diverse scenarios.

Transferable skill types

There are numerous transferable skills that are multifaceted and linked. This can make them difficult to identify, but we'll go through how to find your skills shortly. To start things, let’s just look at the categories into which transferable skills fall.

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are commonly linked to emotional or social intelligence. These aid in the development of connections with coworkers, managers, and clients. They are, without a question, necessary for establishing social relationships and maintaining a pleasant working atmosphere.

While some people are naturally gifted in the domain of interpersonal skills, these abilities can still be developed and mastered on their own. Some excellent examples include:

  • Teamwork
  • Dispute resolution
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Dependability
  • Emotional intelligence (EQ)

Management Skills

Competent management and leadership are vital for any company's progress. This applies not only to project outcomes, but also to how a company treats its employees, how they perform, and their ability to generate income.

Though traditional managerial abilities have evolved over time, their fundamentals have not. These ensure that the company is in capable hands and that everyone feels comfortable on board.

Transferable Management Skills include the following:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Planning
  • Leadership
  • Assertiveness
  • Giving feedback
Man Teaching Woman in Front of Monitor
Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

Communication Skills

Communication skills are measured by how successfully you transmit, process, and receive information. These characteristics can help you work faster, deal with conflict more effectively, and improve your interpersonal and management skills no matter where your career change leads to.

On the topic of a career change, if you are struggling with knowing where to start here is our special guide on the subject. You may also find two more resources invaluable on your journey to a career change: 7 Best Books for Changing Careers and 6 Best Podcasts for Changing Careers

Coming back to communication skills, it is especially critical to be able to communicate clearly in the age of digital media. As a result, these abilities are in higher demand than ever before. Consider the following examples of Transferable Communication Skills:

  • Debating/ Public speaking
  • Listening abilities
  • Clarity
  • Storytelling
  • Presentation skills

Clerical Skills

We associate clerical abilities with administrative chores, which are necessary for the smooth functioning of an organization. 

Being effective in these abilities can be critical for a range of roles, including assistants, administrative officers, office managers, and social care workers. Among the best examples are:

  • Time Management
  • Scheduling tasks
  • Data entry
  • Filing
  • Planning
  • Typing
  • Computer literacy

IT Skills

Technical and information technology skills often necessitate training and experience, yet they are vital in today's workplace. IT and computer skills might increase your earning potential and marketability as a candidate.

You don't necessarily need to know how to code to have IT skills, instead, you could have some of the following skills that are easier to acquire:

  • Digital marketing
  • Social media analytics
  • Technical writing
  • Content writing

General Skills

General skills are advantageous since they are very adaptive and flexible. They are also among the simplest to learn or teach oneself. These are very useful if you want to work in a number of fields and scenarios.

Here are some examples of Transferable General Skills:

  • Multi-tasking 
  • Logical thinking
  • Organization
  • Creativity
  • Self-motivation
  • Writing
  • Adaptability

15 great examples of transferable skills

All transferable abilities are valuable, however, employers prioritize certain critical transferable qualities, such as interpersonal skills, over others. These are the skills that will serve you well in any profession and will elevate you from a good employee to an outstanding employee.

These transferable skills are valuable since your company does not have to worry about training you on them if you already have them. With this list of transferrable skills, you can hit the ground running in any career and begin making great contributions right away.

Our top 15 transferable skills examples:

1. Communication

You will communicate in practically every kind of job, making communication a transferable skill that is valued above all else. 

Your communication skills are defined as your capacity to express thoughts, ideas, and information in a clear and straightforward manner with no space for misunderstanding. 

You must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently so that the person with whom you are communicating understands your message. It is not difficult to understand the kind of chaos a poor communicator can cause in an organization.

In our earlier example of the teacher trying to apply for a Corporate Trainer, the earlier job required him to constantly communicate with students and help explain complex math concepts to them. 

A good teacher automatically means a great communicator.

In his new job as a Corporate Trainer, he will be using this very skill to explain management, marketing, and other concepts, tasks, and functions to employees of an organization. What a great transferable skill to have if you want to become a great Corporate Trainer!

2. Listening

The best communicators are automatically the best listeners as well. After all, you can’t communicate well if you don’t listen to what the other person is talking about.

Listening skills, particularly active listening skills, are transferable talents that should not be dismissed, particularly if you are in management. To address a client's problem or handle team conflicts, you must be able to listen and grasp what the other party is saying. 

If you aren't a good listener, you can miss what the speaker is trying to say. Teachers, for example, are great listeners and this makes them excellent managers because they are able to understand what their team members and peers want.

3. Writing

Writing is, of course, a kind of communication. While writing may not be the primary activity of every job, the nature of modern business has made writing abilities an essential component of most careers

Employees with strong written communication skills can clearly transmit messages and information in the absence of visual signals ensuring that they move thighs along smoothly in an organization.

A friend of mine who was a journalist had excellent writing skills which she used to enter the more lucrative advertising industry as a copywriter. She eventually made it all the way to a creative director position simply because of her ability to creatively pen ideas and concepts in an effective manner.

4. Creativity

Speaking of creativity, this transferable skill isn't necessarily about your ability to paint or draw, unless it's related to your job. If we were to put creativity and creative thinking as transferable skills in a sentence:

“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.” - Albert Einstien

Creativity is defined by the way you approach projects and solve difficulties. Are you a thinker who thinks outside the box? Do you use unique approaches to assist clients in understanding how to use the product? 

Innovative solutions to issues are found by creative thinking. People use these abilities to assist their employers in seeing things differently and solving challenges in novel ways.

As an example, you might question whether a person with a dry job such as a data analyst is creative at all. 

But if a data analyst was to apply for the job of a Project Manager he could specifically mention the creative skills he has developed to find and visualize hidden trends in absurd amounts of large data.

This same creativity he could bring to his job as a Project Manager to find problems and trends over multiple projects and offer solutions. 

Photo of Women at the Meeting
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5. Project management

This, of course, brings us to project management as a transferable skill. The ability to manage projects to a successful conclusion is a much-valued skill for any given job.

Project management abilities assist you in managing assignments from inception to completion. You ensure that everything is completed on schedule and change the timeframe when things do not go as planned. 

Employers want employees who can picture what needs to happen on a project from start to finish, not just see it through. This transferable talent aids in meeting deadlines and completing projects efficiently and successfully.

Suppose you have a track record of successfully managing plumbing projects with a team. If you were to switch careers, you could use the core project management abilities to demonstrate that you could be a great Supervisor for a team of solar system installers.

Employers would find this of great value even though the skills required to install solar panels have nothing directly to do with your current skills to lay plumbing lines.

6. Problem-solving

Your problem-solving abilities enable you to not only detect that there is an issue but also to determine what is causing the problem and how to find a solution. 

Employers value it when employees spot bottlenecks or inefficiencies in a process or procedure. They are even more grateful when staff offers answers to their problems.

Let’s challenge ourselves by considering a completely tangent career change. A KFC night shift manager wants to become a web developer. Let’s also assume he has completed a certificate course in web development.

By simply demonstrating 3 or 5 solid examples of how he identified hidden problems that other managers couldn’t find at his job and how he solved them successfully, this person has immediately made himself more attractive to employers compared to a large number of fresh graduates.

7. Analytical reasoning

Analytical reasoning is, in some sense, a component of problem-solving skills: breaking down a major problem into smaller problems to find a solution. To put it another way, businesses prefer employees who can solve problems logically.

In our earlier example of the KFC Night Shift Manager, all he has to do is show how he came up with the solution by breaking the larger problem into smaller problems that can be tackled easily. This process will demonstrate his analytical reasoning abilities.

8. Critical thinking

Critical thinking, like problem-solving and analytical reasoning, is the examination and interpretation of information in order to make a decision, reach a conclusion, and pick a course of action. This makes critical thinking a very important asset to have.

It entails more than simply reading something and concluding, "Well, it must be true." It involves examining and evaluating evidence to see whether the information is more opinion than fact before using it to support a judgment call.

Your critical thinking abilities as a journalist, for example, could be of great value to an employer looking for a Project Manager.

9. Leadership

Leadership abilities include more than just the capacity to supervise and manage a team. Leadership abilities also include the capacity to take the lead on a project and motivate a team to follow through and achieve common goals. 

Leadership is also a coming together of many other transferable skills, such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, connection development, etc. 

Working with any number of people to successfully deliver management’s expectations in any job can demonstrate leadership.

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10. Flexibility

You may discover that you need to modify due dates, procedures, or even how you approach your job as you progress in your profession. In other circumstances, you may need to master new skills to assist you in helping complete tasks. 

In business, pivots are common, whether it's a strategy or a product line. Demonstrating your ability to adjust to change demonstrates that you can go with the flow while having a pleasant attitude and getting your task done.

The very act of a policeman learning coding to become a web developer shows that he is flexible. However, the easiest way to show flexibility in any job is to demonstrate how you adapted to new technology during your last job.

11. Collaboration and teamwork

Working as a team to achieve a common goal is what collaboration is all about. Every employer knows that being on the team and being a part of the team are not the same things. 

Employers do not want employees that show up but do not contribute to the team's success. They desire team players, people who contribute positively to the group's success because research has shown that teams working together almost always achieve more than individuals do.

12. Attention to detail

When you pay attention to the minute details, you notice things that other people tend to miss. You go through projects with a fine-tooth comb to ensure everything is perfect and that nothing, no matter how minor, is overlooked. 

Because you are detail-oriented, your employer can rely on you to pay attention to every detail in a project and to spot and repair problems as needed. It also implies that you are deliberate in how projects are carried out and that all decisions are well thought out.

13. Relationship building

Relationships and networking are frequently the foundation of every business. A business will suffer if there are poor relationships across departments or with clients! 

People who establish connections easily manage conflict or conflicting goals and assist parties in reaching an agreement. They are seen as approachable and tend to be liked by others.

If you can demonstrate this skill in a previous career, it will be of great value to your new employer even if your new field is completely different.

14. Computer and IT knowledge

You may not be a technology expert, but knowing your way around the many software applications used by organizations nowadays is a smart idea. 

For example, if you learned how to operate one type of spreadsheet at your job at a supermarket warehouse, chances are you can figure out any spreadsheet. Your new employer won't have to teach you the fundamentals.

15. Management

Management is about a lot more than just simply delegating work. It also ensures that people complete their tasks and assists them in overcoming any obstacles they may face. 

Management skills allow you to ensure that people are where they need to be and that their jobs are being completed successfully. Management skills at any job are easily transferable to any other job.

Final Word

Why are transferable skills important? 

Transferable skills are just as important to employers as they are to you, and they can help you advance your career. Using your existing transferable skills to tackle new challenges shows companies that you're adaptable and versatile - both of which are transferable skills in themselves.

The capacity to go from one role to another using these talents demonstrates your adaptability in an ever-changing world.

Many job descriptions include a list of skills that the employer is looking for in applicants. You might not have all of the required skills. However, if your transferable skills are similar to the necessary skills, you will have a better chance of landing the job, even if you do not appear to be a perfect fit.

The best thing about transferable skills is that they will always stay with you! The transferable skills you build year after year will always be there for you, enabling you to adapt, adjust, and grow professionally.

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