How to Make the Most out of Transferable Skills

As you progress through your working life you will acquire and develop several transferrable skills that would be considered useful across a number of roles and sectors. In recent years these transferrable skills have become increasingly valuable to employers who now recognise the benefits of having access to employees with a wide range of skills and experience.

This paradigm shift has opened up many more employment opportunities for people seeking a change in career, as identifying your transferrable skills and highlighting them to a prospective employer can give you the competitive edge and help get you selected for interview.

What Are Transferrable Skills?

Any skill that you possess that can be considered useful outside the environment you gained that skill in, or that can be used in a variety of jobs can be considered transferrable. A transferrable skill does not have to originate in the workplace; it can come from your personal life such as budgeting skills honed during your time as a stay-at-home parent managing your household.  

Typical transferrable skills include communication, research, languages, management, organisation and IT, which would all add to your usefulness to a company in today's market. Let's look at a basic example of how your skills could be applied in another sector:

If you have spent your entire working life in the hospitality industry as a waiter or waitress you may feel that you are unlikely to be able to secure a job in an office, but consider the transferrable skills your job has allowed you to develop.

As a waiter it is likely that you spent a lot of time delivering excellent customer service and communicating with colleagues, managers and even external organisations such as suppliers or offices calling to make large bookings.

Additionally, you may have completed paperwork such as order forms, invoices and timesheets and become very good at accurate data entry such as entering customer orders into a kitchen software program.

These skills, communication, liaising with external departments and data entry, would all be useful in any office environment and it's likely that you have several more skills that would be of use.

Transferrable skills can be useful for moving into any sector, but there are some high-growth sectors where these skills would be especially attractive such as the retail sector, charity jobs and general management positions.

Spending some time researching current openings will highlight sectors that place a great deal of value on transferrable skills. For example, nurse vacancies often specify the need for good people skills, organisation, leadership and communication, so if you are able to retrain you may find that your existing skills help you to stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for nursing positions.

Highlighting Transferrable Skills on Your CV

When applying for a job that you have little or no direct experience in, remember to present the experience you do have in a way that is relevant to the role you are applying for.

Study the person specification and job description and set out to show how your skills fit the requirements. Your CV is the first impression an employer will get of you and your chance to sell yourself, so if you think you've got what it takes make sure you show it.


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