Transferable Skills

In today’s complex business world, underpinning knowledge relating to a particular job or profession are of course important, but transferable skills are increasingly seen as crucial in your attempts to secure the job you want.

Transferable skills are those skills you can demonstrate competently and can transfer from one job, or one activity, to another. If you can show an employer that you have these skills – commonly known as ‘soft skills’ – it will give you a head start in a competitive job market and will let employers see that you are going to be flexible, adaptable and effective in your work. These skills also include IT and data skills, which in fact may be more easily transferable.

Transferable skills take you beyond the qualifications listed on your CV. At interview, your transferable skills will have more impact if you focus on them to discuss your suitability for a job role, rather than to merely have them listed in your CV. And, if you relate these skills directly to those outlined in the person specification, then you can indeed show that you can do the job competently.

These skills will be to your advantage if you want to change jobs, or if you wish to change departments or job roles in your present company.

Examples of transferable skills include the more obvious and the less obvious. The more obvious ones are those of being a good listener, the management of people, decision-making under pressure, managing and organising your work to strict deadlines, excellent presentation skills, and the ability to deal with day-to-day crises.

The less obvious ones might include motivating those around you, demonstrating leadership, being able to conduct high quality research, being capable of negotiation amongst conflicted parties, the ability to coach and mentor, and the demonstration of vision for yourself, your colleagues and your organisation. A commitment to the principles of emotional intelligence will stand you in good stead.

How can you work out your own transferable skills?

Self-assessment can be a difficult exercise for many people. But you will need to pinpoint a specific work example in the recent past when you have demonstrated a particular skill. You will need to discuss the context of the situation at the time, and explain how you performed and what the outcome was, whether positive or not. If the latter, you can say what you have learned from the experience, as employers want employees who can think and learn from their mistakes. Your example may show a number of transferable skills within the same situation, so ensure you make the most of it.

Certainly in one typical day at work you will be expected to show more than one transferable skill at the same time in the way that you handle and resolve problematic issues.

Transferable skills are now becoming more commonly known as’ competencies’, but the meaning has not changed. Nor has their importance. It is absolutely vital that you show evidence of these competencies in your interview.