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Transferable Skills

Unlike job-related skills, which tend to be used only in one type of work, transferable skills are skills that can be used in every occupation, regardless of the type of work. They are universal skills — you can transfer them from one type of work to another without much effort on your part or training from the employer.

Many employers think that if you are able to use the skill in one situation, you should be able to use that skill in another job, even if the work appears to be unrelated to your past employment or educational experience.

For this reason, your transferable skills are often more important than your job-related skills. This is especially true if you are changing careers or making the transition from school to work.

Suppose that an automobile mechanic wants a job repairing household appliances. The mechanic should emphasize general mechanical skills, not specific automotive skills.

The household appliance employer will be interested in the mechanic’s general skills: Can the mechanic use hand tools? Can the mechanic troubleshoot, repair, adjust, and maintain mechanical devices? The employer does not care that the mechanic can grind pistons, rebuild carburetors, and adjust ignition timing.

In identifying your transferable skills, do not overlook the skills you’ve gained from everyday living. Most jobseekers fail to see this potential. These skills can, however, help you meet an employer’s expectations.

If you do not already know your transferable skills, complete the transferable skills exercise on the following pages. This exercise will help you identify at least ten of your transferable skills.

Review the list of transferable skills on the next pages and check all of the skills that you feel are the skills you have.

Check the EDUCATION column if you acquired that skill during your education or through a training program. Check the LIFE column if you acquired the skill anywhere else, which would include paid employment, volunteer activities, and general life experience. Check the third column, NEXT JOB, if you feel you will need that skill in the next job you have that meets your primary job objective.

A = Education

B = Life

C = Next Job

A B C transferable skill
      act/perform
      adapt to situations
      advise people
      analyze data
      anticipate problems
      appraise service
      arrange functions
      assemble products
      assess situations
      audit records
      bargain/barter
      be cost conscious
      be responsible for
      budget money
      build
      buy products/services
      calculate numbers
      chart information
      check for accuracy
      classify information
      collect money
      communicate
      compare data
      compile statistics
      compute data
      conceptualize
      conduct
      confront others
      construct buildings
      consult w/ others
      contact others
      contact w/ others
      control costs
      control people
      control situations
      converse w/ others
      coordinate activities
      cope w/ deadlines
      copy information
      correspond w/ others
      create
      delegate
      deliver
      demonstrate
      design
      detail
      detect
      determine
      develop
      direct others
      dispense information
      distribute
      do precision work
      do public relations work
      draft
      drive
      edit
      encourage
      endure long hours
      enforce
      entertain
      establish
      estimate
      evaluate
      examine
      exchange
      exhibit
      expand
      expedite
      explain
      explore
      file records
      find information
      fix/repair
      follow directions
      follow through
      gather information
      gather materials
      generate
      guide/lead
      handle complaints
      handle equipment
      handle money
      help people
      illustrate
      imagine solutions
      implement
      improve
      improvise
      inform people
      initiate actions
      inspect products
      install
      instruct
      interpret data
      interview people
      invent
      inventory
      investigate
      lead people
      learn
      learn quickly
      liaise
      lift (heavy)
      lift (moderate)
      listen
      locate information
      log information
      make/create
      make decisions
      make policy
      manage a business
      manage people
      measure boundaries
      mediate problems
      meet the public
      memorize information
      mentor others
      monitor progress
      motivate others
      move materials
      negotiate
      nurse
      nurture
      observe
      obtain
      operate equipment
      order goods/supplies
      organize data
      organize people
      organize tasks
      own/operate business
      paint
      perceive needs
      perform routine work
      persuade others
      plan
      plant
      prepare materials
      print
      process information
      process materials
      produce
      program
      promote
      protect property
      provide maintenance
      question others
      raise money
      read reference books
      recommend
      record data
      recruit people
      rectify
      reduce costs
      refer people
      rehabilitate people
      remember information
      remove
      repair
      replace
      report information
      research
      resolve problems
      restore
      retrieve information
      review
      run meetings
      schedule
      seek out
      select
      sell
      separate
      sequence
      service customers
      service equipment
      set goals/objectives
      set up equipment
      set up systems
      sew
      shape
      signal
      size up situations
      sketch
      socialize
      solve problems
      sort
      speak in public
      study
      supervise
      supply
      support
      survey
      synthesize
      tabulate
      take instructions
      tend equipment
      test
      think ahead
      think logically
      tolerate interruptions
      track
      train/teach
      transcribe
      transfer
      translate
      travel
      treat
      troubleshoot
      tutor
      type
      understand
      unite people
      update information
      upgrade
      use hand/eye coord.
      use words correctly
      verify
      visit
      visualize
      volunteer
      weigh
      work quickly
      write procedures
      write promo material
      write proposals
      write reports
      write technical work

Once you’ve identified your transferable skills, you need to develop them into statements that you can make in an interview, which will show employers that you are the best person for the job. Below are sample statements about transferable skills. Each is followed by an example and a connection to a specific job.

Transferable skill statement 1

"I can meet deadlines."

Example

"While in school, I rarely missed a due date on an assignment."

Connection

"If I was able to meet deadlines in school, I will also be able to meet your work deadlines and quotas."

Transferable skill statement 2

"I can keep financial records."

Example

"As a full-time homemaker I handled all of the family money, including savings and checking, without ever bouncing a check or failing to pay a bill on time."

Connection

"If I could handle the family finances so well for twenty years, while taking care of all of the other household chores at the same time, I could be a good account clerk for you."

Transferable skill statement 3

"I am a well-organized person."

Example

"At my last job I had six bosses. I had to organize my time and set priorities to get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction."

Connection

"If I could handle that confusion, I’m sure I’ll be able to deal with the organizational demands of this job."

Transferable skill statement 4

"I’m a good explainer."

Example

"Whenever anyone at work had trouble understanding a procedure, they came to me for an explanation."

Connection

"I can learn quickly, train new workers, and help others."

Now choose three transferable skills from your list that you think will interest most potential employers. Write these skills as complete statements, like the samples. Then include examples from your own experiences that support your statements. Also, state the connection between each ability and the job you want.

Transferable skills

Statement                                                                                     

Example                                                                                        

Connection