Job Seekers: Identifying and Leveraging Transferrable Skills

When seeking a new job or career, essentially, it is the skills you bring to the table that will earn the attention of hiring managers. Transferrable skills, specifically, play an important role in helping job seekers through the interview process and beyond.

Here, we will describe transferrable skills, their importance, as well how to leverage them to your advantage during your job search.

Skills Definition Magnifier Shows Aptitude Ability And Competence

What are transferrable skills?

Chances are, you have been acquiring transferrable skills throughout your life, and probably haven’t even given it much thought. These skills can be obtained from all aspects of your life, both professionally and even recreationally, as well as through education. Most specifically, however, transferrable skills are abilities that can be applied across a multitude of platforms. Some examples include:

  • Typing and other clerical skills
  • People skills and public relations
  • Management skills, such as supervising volunteers
  • Research
  • Computer
  • Using office equipment
  • Phone skills

While these are only examples, your own list of transferrable skills may surprise you if you take the time to analyze and closely identify each one.

Importance of transferrable skills

Of course, candidates with the most expertise are the most desirable to potential employers. A new hire who walks through the door with a basic set of aptitudes requires less training; and this not only saves employers time and money, but makes it easier for the employee to be placed in different jobs and roles when needed. For instance, if two candidates applying for a computer programming job possess the same direct skills set, but one of the candidates has several useful transferrable skills, which candidate do you think will likely get the job? In other words, possessing a wider range of transferrable skills provides job seekers with a significant competitive edge.

It’s important for employees to be aware of the situations where transferrable skills can be attained. Every day is a new learning experience, as well as an opportunity to acquire new expertise which will follow you throughout your career.

Highlighting transferrable skills on your resumé

Now that we have defined and reviewed the importance of transferrable skills, how can job seekers be sure these specific skills are effectively spotlighted when moving forward in their careers? This is where proper resumé planning comes into play. According to career writer and advisor, Sara McCord, certain formulas work better than others. For example, instead of using a bullet list to itemize your skills, get more creative and explain how this transferrable skill will be a benefit to the company and position for which you’re applying. McCord provides the following blueprint: “As a [prior role], I [explain a responsibility], which taught me [transferable skill(s)]. That’s a skill I would draw on from day one as a [new role].

For a clearer idea, McCord also provides the example of a candidate seeking a management position. Their transferrable skill description may look something like this: “As a volunteer coordinator, I managed 150 people across three cities. It taught me how to keep a large group motivated, on task and moving toward larger goals. That’s a skill I would draw on from day one in this management role.”

Male employee browsing in laptop

The Takeaway

Job seekers should never underestimate the importance of transferrable skills. When highlighting any of your skills, mention those that will directly apply to the position for which you’re applying, but also list others which may have a more distant impact. You might assume that everyone knows how to manage a four-line telephone or perform data research, but if it’s not listed on your resumé, the hiring department will not know you have an ability that could potentially tip the scale in your favor.

Related: The Right Way To List Job Titles On Your Resumé


Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200