When changing careers or starting a new role, it’s important to think about your transferable skills. These are the skills you bring from one job to the next, like organization, leadership or adaptability. Transferable skills help you adapt to various situations and perform even in unfamiliar professional settings.

In this article, we’ll cover the transferable skills definition, how to showcase them in your resume and provide examples.

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What Are Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills, also known as portable skills, are abilities that are useful in a wide variety of jobs and industries. These skills allow you to execute well in different professional situations, even unknown ones. The knowledge, experiences and talents acquired in past roles help you grow your transferable skills.

While technical or hard skills help you perform tasks specific to a particular role, transferable skills like communication or problem-solving are applicable in many settings and allow you to adapt to a new environment.

10 Transferable Skills Examples

You most likely already possess many transferable skills! Here are 10 examples of transferable skills and their related soft skills:

1. Communication

Communication skills are arguably the most important because they play a critical role in almost any situation in every industry. Skilled communicators know how to share information in written, verbal and non-verbal form. These skills help you appropriately express yourself depending on the context, listen intently, read body language, and move projects forward effectively.

While a teacher may use their communication skills to educate their students, an account executive can use the same skills to communicate important news to their client and effectively manage a stressful situation.

Some related skills include:

  • Active listening

  • Written communication

  • Verbal communication

  • Nonverbal communication

  • Public speaking

2. Analytical thinking

Analytical skills refer to the ability to gather data, analyze the facts, and come to a solution. Analytical thinking helps you objectively assess a situation to produce sound judgment that solves the problem. Critical thinking is essential in any professional setting, whether an entry-level or executive role.

For example, a scientist may use their analytical thinking to question the data and investigate further to ensure the conclusion is correct. On the other hand, a retail store manager can apply their analytical thinking to improve their sales numbers for the next quarter.

Some related skills include:

  • Problem-solving

  • Observation

  • Research

  • Brainstorming

  • Tenacity

3. Leadership

Leadership skills allow employees to build trust and dependability and guide their team to success. While leadership is mainly valued for supervising and executive positions, an employee who shows leadership can make great strides before directing a team.

For example, a marketing supervisor can use leadership skills to effectively help their team launch an important campaign. Similarly, a factory worker may use their leadership skills to influence their peers to be more careful when handling heavy equipment.

Some related skills include:

  • Conflict resolution

  • Delegation

  • Dependability

  • Goal-setting

  • Team building

4. Management

Management skills help manage timely projects, employees and company processes. A competent manager has to be goal-oriented and results-driven to supervise, direct and schedule effectively.

For example, a project manager ensures an assignment gets done on time and correctly to maintain steady progress on the more significant project. On the other hand, a manager for a fast food chain uses their skills to assign tasks to their employees based on their strengths and guarantee the restaurant runs smoothly during high business hours.

Some related skills include:

  • People management

  • Time management

  • Business knowledge

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Transparency

5. Decision-making

Decision-making and analytical skills go hand in hand. Analytical thinking is essential to make a decision, but it takes a capable decision-maker to stand firm on their solution and see it through. Decision-making is critical in executive roles and helps entry-level employees stand out because it shows confidence and good judgment.

While a tech executive uses their decision-making skills to pull the trigger on a new product, social media managers may make the insightful decision to switch up their Instagram posting frequency to maximize audience engagement.

Some related skills include:

  • Creativity

  • Confidence

  • Critical thinking

  • Collaboration

  • Evaluation

6. Adaptability

Adaptability, by definition, is a transferable skill. Adapting to new situations makes you a versatile, confident and reliable candidate. This skill is valuable at any level of every industry.

For example, a warehouse worker who manages product packaging takes inventory and makes deliveries is highly adaptable. At the same time, a recently hired employee who quickly understands the scope of their work is applying their adaptability skills efficiently.

Some related skills include:

  • Resiliency

  • Open-mindedness

  • Creativity

  • Curiosity

  • Observation

7. Attention to detail

Attention to detail is crucial to ensure the quality of the finer aspects of a project is up to standards. A detail-oriented employee focuses on an assignment or product’s little but very critical details.

For example, a detail-oriented editor will ensure the article goes live without grammatical errors. Similarly, a clothing designer may spend hours perfecting the finer details of a garment to guarantee the customer is satisfied.

Some related skills include:

  • Observation

  • Patience

  • Active listening

  • Time management

  • Critical thinking

8. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are highly valuable in almost every customer or internal-facing role. These skills help to move along a project by encouraging team building, trust and transparency. Excellent communication skills are essential to creating solid interpersonal relationships.

For example, a coffee shop barista uses interpersonal skills to build trust with regular customers and earn tips. On the other hand, a human resources employee needs interpersonal skills to manage situations in the workplace effectively.

Some related skills include:

  • Transparency

  • Communication

  • Active listening

  • Conflict management

  • Trust

9. Computer proficiency

Computer skills allow you to use computers, tablets, software systems, and tech apps more efficiently. Almost every job in every industry uses a computer interface to perform a function.

For example, a cashier needs computer skills to use point-of-sale systems, and an IT technician effectively applies the same skills to keep the office’s hardware and software running smoothly.

Some related skills include:

  • Hardware skills

  • MS Office Suite

  • Social media

  • Email

  • Computer presentations

10. Organization

Organized employees keep a neat workspace, meet deadlines, and share critical information promptly. In other words, an organized employee is reliable, which is desirable in any industry.

An organized office manager maintains a clean work environment and tracks important dates like office birthdays. Similarly, an organized bartender keeps their bar clean and spirits and bar tools stored correctly.

Some related skills include:

  • Time management

  • Strategic planning

  • Prioritization

  • Scheduling

  • Multitasking

Why Are Transferable Skills Important?

Most employers highly value transferable skills because they contribute to your professional effectiveness. The range of your transferable skills shows your versatility and ability to adapt to an evolving industry.

Honing your transferable skills is crucial to making yourself a compelling candidate for a career change. Even if you’re not changing careers, nurturing your transferable skills will help you have a more holistic skill set.

30 Transferable Skills for Resume

Knowing some of the most common transferable skills will help you identify your own. Check out this list of transferable skills:

  • Data analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Flexibility
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Multitasking
  • Conflict resolution
  • Active listening
  • Observation
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Evaluation
  • Business knowledge
  • People management
  • Goal-setting
  • Team building
  • Delegation
  • Budgeting
  • Record keeping
  • Negotiation
  • Interviewing
  • Empathy
  • Public Speaking
  • Dependability
  • Negotiation
  • Providing feedback
  • Coordinating
  • Research
  • Record keeping

How to Highlight Your Transferable Skills

Correctly showcasing your transferable skills on your resume and cover letter is key to impressing recruiters. Start by reviewing the job post and identifying which of your transferable skills are relevant to the role.

Transferable Skills on Resume

Three sections in your resume are ideal to highlight your transferable skills:

  • Resume summary or resume objective: At the very top of your resume, this two to three-sentence statement is perfect for including your most valuable transferable skills. For example, if you have strong attention to detail and communication skills, you might say:

    “Experienced content editor with a meticulous eye for detail, ensuring accuracy and consistency in all written materials. Proficient communicator adept at collaborating with writers and stakeholders to refine content and meet project goals.”

  • Work experience: In this section, identify the skills you used in past roles and weave them into your accomplishments. For example, if you wanted to showcase your time management skills:

    “Streamlined content production process by implementing time-efficient editorial schedules, resulting in a 20% increase in output while maintaining quality standards.”

  • Skills section: List other relevant transferable skills and your hard and soft skills.

Transferable Skills on Cover Letter

In your cover letter, weave in your transferable skills while sharing your achievements in past roles to convince the employer you’re the right fit for the role. Remember to focus on transferable skills included in the job description. This will ensure you’re targeting what the hiring manager seeks. Here’s how it should look:

“In my previous role at XYZ Publications, I collaborated closely with writers, designers, and stakeholders to ensure that all content met editorial standards and organizational objectives. Through effective communication and strong teamwork, we could streamline workflows and consistently deliver engaging and error-free content to our audience. Additionally, my adept organizational skills allowed me to efficiently prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and adapt to changing project requirements, ultimately contributing to the overall success of our editorial department.”

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Key Takeaways

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about resume transferable skills, let’s review the main points:

  • Transferable skills are abilities that you can transfer to many industries and job roles.
  • Transferable skills show your versatility and ability to adapt to new professional settings.
  • Review the job description to ensure you’re highlighting transferable skills relevant to the job position.
  • Showcase your resume transferable skills in the skills section, work experience section, resume summary or objective.
  • Weave in your transferable skills while underscoring your past professional achievements in the body paragraphs of your cover letter.