What are transferable skills?

Everyone has them – but do you know what yours are?

What you will learn

  • The importance of transferable skills 
  • How to find out what your own transferable skills are 
  • How to present these in an interview or application form

Transferable skills are things you’re good at that are useful to employers across many different jobs and industries.

For instance, your experience of working with children in a youth group may have given you time management and organisation skills that could be useful in many other jobs. The flexible nature of these skills is what makes them transferable.

Throughout your life, you’ll have gained skills you can use in multiple jobs. You’ll have harnessed these skills from:

  • Your previous job roles
  • Projects you’ve worked on
  • Any volunteering work you’ve undertaken
  • And your sports, hobbies and interests

You may not be aware that something you do every day is a skill that employers love to see.

Why are they important

For some jobs, an employer might ask you to have specific technical skills or knowledge, such as knowing how to use a certain type of software or how to operate a piece of machinery. These types of skills will sometimes require you to complete a qualification.

Transferable skills are any skills you have that can be taken with you to a new role. You normally have gotten them through various on-the-job experiences. They relate to your character, attitude, outlook and approaches.

It’s extremely useful to identify your transferable skills because they demonstrate what unique traits you can bring to a role. Most importantly, they can show an employer how well you might fit into their team.
Here are some examples of transferable skills that you might have:

  • Planning skills – good organisation, forward planning, time-management and prioritisation of tasks
  • Communication skills – teamwork, management, writing and presenting
  • Problem solving skills – researching, analysing, listening and developing solutions to problems

How can I apply transferable skills to my job search?

The key thing to remember about transferable skills is that you can use them in multiple scenarios and areas of your life – your job is just one of these.

Transferable skills on your CV

Adding your transferable skills to your CV helps employers to build a well-rounded impression of you.

Keep your CV skills relevant to the job you’re targeting. 

Think about the skills you have used to perform certain tasks. How will they be useful to an employer?

Transferable skills in an interview

During an interview, you should use examples of when you’ve used relevant transferable skills to answer questions. One way of ensuring you do this is by using the STAR technique – Situation Task Action Result.

Describe the situation to your employer. Include details of the role you were in, where you were and who else was around you that may have impacted the outcome.

Describe the task at hand. Were you asked to deal with an issue? How did you feel about the task you were having to do?

Describe the actions you took to complete this task. Here is a good time to highlight any transferable skills you may have used. For example, did you co-ordinate a small team to complete the task? What steps did you take to try achieve the best possible result, and in what sequence? How did your skills help you?

What was result of you having used your skills in this situation? How may it have gone differently if you didn’t have these skills?

Some other articles you may find helpful

Key Skills Checklist

Do you need some help identifying your skills? Our Skills Checklist can help you.

Skills Discovery

Enter your previous jobs and we’ll show you what transferable skills you may already have that employers would love to see.

How to sell yourself in applications

Learn how to come across well to your future employers and secure that next stage interview.