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
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."
"While in school, I rarely missed a due date on an assignment."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Whenever anyone at work had trouble understanding a procedure, they came to me for an explanation."
"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.