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Career Planning: Choose Your Path

Transferable Skills

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What Are Transferable Skills?

No matter what you learned in school or at a previous job, transferable skills are what every worker gains from each career experience, including volunteering, internships, freelance jobs, and more. They are the skills that you can use in any professional setting. Employers seek transferable skills in their staff because employees with transferable skills have the tools that help them go beyond their job description

Taking your existing transferable skills and applying them to new challenges demonstrates to employers that you’re adaptable and versatile (which are also transferable skills!). The ability to transition from one role to another using these skills shows flexibility in an ever-changing world.

Many job descriptions list a series of skills the company wants from applicants. You may not necessarily have all of the requested skills. But, your transferable skills may be similar to the desired skills, giving you a better shot at getting the job, even if you don’t seem to be a perfect fit. Transferable skills are also helpful when shifting from one career field to a very different one (say, advertising account manager to preschool teacher). Calling attention to your transferable skills helps demonstrate how, for example, the project management skills you used to create a winning ad campaign will help you design exciting and engaging lesson plans. Same skill, different application. 

This video explains transferable skills with examples. 

How Do Transferable Skills Relate to Careers?

Revisit the Self-Assessment page under Transferable Skills for links to resources related to identifying your transferable skills and how you would be able to highlight them on your employment documents. 

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Utilizing Transferable Personal and College Skills 

Think about your experiences, socially and academically. Your involvement in clubs, activities and organizations developed skills that can be used in the workforce. These may have be more formalized like band, sports or student government. It may have been experiences from jobs at that fast-food restaurant or even chores like mowing the lawn or babysitting.  Let’s look at some transferable skills that are beneficial to you as you explore career options (Source:

1. Problem Solving

Your problem-solving skills help you not only identify that there is a problem, they also help you identify what is causing the problem and find a way to implement a solution. Employers appreciate it when an employee identifies bottlenecks or inefficiencies in a process or procedure. However, they are even more appreciative when staff also offer solutions to those issues.

2. Analytical Reasoning

Analytical reasoning is, in some ways, part of your problem-solving skills: taking the larger problem and breaking it down into smaller problems to identify a solution. Put another way, employers want staff who can find logical solutions to the company’s problems.

3. Critical Thinking

Similar to problem-solving and analytical reasoning, critical thinking is the evaluation and interpretation of information to make a judgment, come to a conclusion, or choose a course of action. It’s more than reading something and saying, “Well, it must be true.” It’s looking at the evidence and evaluating it to help decide if the information is more opinion than fact before using it to back up a decision.

4. Leadership

Leadership skills aren’t only your ability to supervise and manage a team. Leadership skills also include your ability to take the lead on a project and get a team to follow through and accomplish shared goals. Leadership encompasses many additional transferable skills like communication, problem-solving, and relationship building.

5. Adaptability

As you work in a role, you may discover that you need to adjust due dates, workflow, or even how you approach your job. In some cases, you may need to learn new skills to help get the job done. Pivots often happen in business, whether it’s a strategy or a product line. Demonstrating that you can adapt to change shows that you’re able to go with the flow while maintaining a positive attitude and getting your work done.

6. Teamwork

Teamwork means working together as a group to achieve a common goal. But being on the team and part of the team are two separate things. Employers don’t want employees who show up but don’t help the team accomplish its goals. They want team players, people who make positive contributions to the group to help it succeed.

7. Communication

A transferable skill in any setting, you will communicate in almost every job. Your communication skills are your ability to share ideas and information in a clear and concise manner,  leaving no room for misunderstanding. You need the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently, so whomever you are communicating with understands your message.

8. Writing

Writing is, of course, a communication method. While writing may not be the primary task of every job, given the nature of modern businesses, writing skills have become an essential element of most careers. Employees with effective written communication skills can convey messages and information clearly despite the lack of visual cues.

9. Listening

Listening skills, specifically active listening skills, are transferable skills that cannot be overlooked especially if you’re in management. To solve a problem for a client or resolve team conflicts, you have to be able to listen and understand what the other side is saying. If you aren’t a good listener, you may not truly understand what the speaker is trying to convey.

10. Creativity

Creativity isn’t always about your painting or drawing skills (unless it’s relevant to your role). Creativity is about how you approach tasks and solve problems. Are you an out of the box thinker? Do you employ novel techniques to help clients understand how to use the product? Creative thinkers find novel solutions to the problems they face. They use these skills to help their employer see things differently and solve problems in new ways.

11. Attention to Detail

Paying attention to the finer details means you notice everything. You go through projects with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it’s all correct and that nothing—no matter how small—gets lost. Being detail-oriented means your employer can count on you to pay attention to every detail in an assignment, and to catch errors and correct them as needed. It also means that you’re intentional about how projects are executed and there’s strong reasoning behind all decisions.

12. Project Management

Project management skills help you manage tasks from start to finish. You make sure everything stays on time and also adjust the timeline when things aren’t going as planned. Employers want people who can not only see a task through, but who can visualize what needs to happen on a project from start to finish. This transferable skill helps ensure that deadlines are met and projects are completed efficiently and effectively.

13. Relationship Building

Relationships are often the key building block of any company. Without good relationships between departments or with clients, there won’t be any business! People who build relationships manage conflict or differing goals, and help parties arrive at a solution.

14. Computer Skills

You may not be a technological wizard, but it’s a good idea to know your way around the many software programs that businesses use today. For example, if you know how to work in one type of spreadsheet, the odds are pretty good you can figure out any spreadsheet, which means the company won’t have to teach you the basics.

15. Management

Management is so much more than assigning tasks. It’s also making sure people get things done and helping them overcome any stumbling blocks they may encounter. Management skills enable you to make sure that people are where they need to be and that they are completing their tasks effectively.

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Transferable Skills List

The first step to identifying your transferable skills is to understand what some of the most common transferable skills actually are. The list below offers a wide variety of transferable skills: 

Transferable Skills list

Identifying Your Transferable Skills

Now that you have an understanding of some of the most common transferable skills, it’s time to identify some of your own: 

  1. Identify 10 skills from the above list that you most exhibit.
  2. Write down all the ways you have used each skill in both your professional and personal life. Try to be as comprehensive as possible, making sure to include all the ways you embody the skill. (If you need some examples look at the section above).
  3. Identify the five skills that have been most impactful for you in your professional or personal life. 
  4. Jot down key achievements for each skill on your short list.
  5. Rank your five skills from most impactful to least impactful. The purpose here is not to judge your skills but instead to have a clear sense of what skills have served you well so far. 

Tip: One way to identify valuable transferable skills in your desired area of employment is to read through job postings and identify the skills they highlight. Once you have made a list of the desired skills, use the above exercise to identify the ways you have used those skills in your personal and professional life.  For more inspiration, consider asking a friend, family member, or coworker what they think your best skills are. Sometimes, the people closest to us can see our strengths better than we can.


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Matching Your Skills to the Job Description

It is important to tailor your skills on employment documents such as your cover letter and resume to highlight skills and responsibilities found in the job description. Your goal is to draw the shortest line possible between your experience and what’s stated in the job description.

  • A job posting says: “These are the skills we need and the qualifications we’re looking for.”
  • A generic resume job description says: “I have all this experience. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out whether I am capable of doing the job.”
  • A tailored resume job description says: “Here is an easy-to-read roadmap of where I acquired and developed each of your required skills and qualifications.”

Check the specific job description of the position

Go line by line through the job description and ask yourself these questions:

  • “Does my resume experience section/cover letter explanation clearly state that I can do what’s required of this role?”
  • “Am I using the same language found in the job description or job posting?”
  • Mirroring the language, keywords, and buzzwords found within the job description is the easiest way to demonstrate you’re a better match than the competition. The best way to ensure you pass the ATS (Applicant Tracking System -computer software designed to scan resumes for certain keywords and weed out the ones that don’t match the job description) is to take words from the job posting and strategically put them in your job descriptions and other resume sections. 

By doing this, you might find several different or missing skills and keywords in your generic resume.

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Transferable skill statement 1 Budget Money: “I can keep financial records.” Example:  “As a full-time homemaker I handled all of the family money, including savings and checking, without ever bouncing a check or failing to pay a bill on time.” Connection:  “If I could handle the family finances so well for twenty years, while taking care of all of the other household chores at the same time, I could be a good account clerk for you.” Transferable skill statement 2 Organize tasks: “I am a well-organized person.” Example:  “At my last job I received assignments from multiple people. I had to organize my time and set priorities to get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction.” Connection:  “If I could handle that confusion, I’m sure I’ll be able to deal with the organizational demands of this job.” Transferable skill statement 3 Explain: “I can explain information clearly” Example:  “Whenever anyone at work had trouble understanding a procedure, they came to me for an explanation.” Connection:  “I can learn quickly, train new workers, and help others.”


With so much to achieve on a daily basis, successful homemakers always keep their eye on the clock. If your meetings tend to stretch forever, and you cannot seem to stay on schedule for your targets, someone with homemaking experience can turn that around for you.

Through experience, homemakers understand the effect of allowing tasks to take up too long to complete, of failing to have something done in time, and of the benefits of scheduling right off the bat.


Homemakers are, of necessity planners. From household chore to family events, these women have a skill that some employees still need to be taught. A homemaker understands the difference between a daily, weekly and monthly plan.

Meal planning is one way they practice this. She needs to plan for daily meals, which will be the foundation of her weekly or even monthly shopping trips. At the same time, she masters making adjustments, improvising, scheduling and reviewing.


Homemaking tasks are varied, numerous and as diverse as the lives involved. The basics of homemaking encompass cooking, cleaning, childcare, gardening, tutoring, house maintenance and so on. In a single day, she will have to deal with some or even all of these tasks.

With only 24 hours in a day, multi-tasking is something learned out of necessity. The trick with multi-tasking is that while it is necessary, it needs to be done in a logical manner to be effective. While you can listen to your child’s reading while cooking, for example, it becomes illogical to attempt it while you are vacuuming.

If your team needs someone who seamlessly integrates tasks together, you may need to give the homemaker a chance.


Creativity is one of those skills that is difficult to define and teach to a person. It is best learned in context. And what better context than in the home, where routine can soon lead to boredom in so many ways.

From the layout of furniture to meals and family activities, there comes a time where a new approach is demanded of you. When work and business solutions start to get mundane, the homemaker will seldom be out of depth.



Who engages the part-time help to complete a task in the shortest time possible for the lowest cost? Who meets the meter man at the gate and diverts any attempt to disconnect services? Who sets the terms for play dates, physical boundaries, and social events?

The very same tasks in the context of a formal work environment can be assigned to the woman who already has lots of experience form home.

In some cases, it’s the homemaker herself who needs to be reminded of all the wealth of experience that she brings to the workforce.

There is no reason to feel inferior or incompetent. A successful homemaker makes a successful employee.

Highlighting Transferable Skills On Your Cover Letter

Highlighting Your Transferable Skills on Your Cover Letter

Transferable skills are those competencies that you develop as you progress through employment, education, or training. As the name suggests, these skills can be transferred from one job to another. Because of their versatility, transferable skills are valued by employers regardless of the industry. As such, using them to position your previous work experience can be beneficial for your application, even if you don’t necessarily have specific related industry experience.

The best job search tactic involves customizing your cover letter and résumé for every position you apply to. The extra time and care you put into this step makes all the difference. One thing you do not want to do is create a laundry list of all of your transferable skills and throw them on your résumé or cover letter. Instead, select only the relevant transferable skills you’ll need for a specific position and highlight those. Research the position that you are applying to and tailor your cover letter to demonstrate that you are the candidate that meets those needs.

Analyze the Job Description

Read the job description for detail. As you review it, make note of keywords and requirements that are repeated or stand out (especially if they say 'required' or 'preferred'). These are areas that you want to compare with your transferable skills and make a match to highlight. 

What Are Your Transferable Skills?

Take the list of core skills the company wants from applicants for that role and compare your skills and experience to identify which of your current job skills are transferable and should be showcased on your resume. Don’t overstate your skills, claiming you have extensive and relevant  experience if that’s not the case. 

Transferable Skills - Cover Letter vs. Résumé 

When writing your résumé, you are outlining specific job duties you completed while in a position. These are specific responsibilities related to that task and that role. Typically, these are the 'hard skills'. On occasion, you will be able to incorporate transferable skills in the résumé duties, for example budgeting, teaching, record-keeping or supervising. But what if you have a transferable skill that you used daily, but it was 'part of the job'? These might be skills such as conflict resolution, decision making, quick learner or easily adapting to change. Those are transferable skills that you would want to highlight in your cover letter (especially if the job description suggests that those traits would be useful or necessary). Some job descriptions even list out skills they are looking for in candidates other than just experience. When writing your cover letter, you have the opportunity to highlight skills that are not explained in your résumé. 

Go back to Module 1 and revisit the Transferable Skills area under Self-Assessments. You can find great options for wording related to your skills and what employers are looking for. 

Digital Footprint & Online Identity

What is a 'digital footprint'?

As you being to develop your 'ideal candidate' image while you prepare for job interviews and employment, it is important to remember that you exist outside of what you share with potential employers. Your digital footprint is a permanent record of your online activity. It defines who you are in an online environment. Think beyond your visits to websites and social media sites. Digital footprints include photos posted by you and others of you, text messages, emails, blogs, and public profiles. It is important to understand that as students and professionals, we must always protect our personal image and reputation, which means being careful all forms of interactions; face-to-face and online. 

Here are some ways to protect your digital footprint:

  • Avoid sharing personal information or personal identifiers (full name, address, contact number, etc.)
  • Guard your privacy
  • Delete unused social media accounts
  • Be conscious of the websites you visit and the content of your posts in an online environment
  • KNOW your friends in an online environment
  • When taking photos with others, be sure they are appropriate as you are unable to control the posting of photos by others
  • Use digital tools to manage your digital footprint
  • Google yourself
  • Use privacy settings, use a password keeper, and monitor linking accounts
  • Always remember, NOTHING is private online, and assume everyone is ALWAYS watching!

Articles To Help Declutter Your Digital Footprint

Digital Footprints and Job Prospects - This is a great article about how your digital footprint can affect you and how companies use your digital footprint for employment decisions from hiring to firing. 

How Your Digital Footprint Can Impact Your Career 

12 Reasons to Research a Job Applicant's Digital Footprint - Looking at this topic from the employer's point of view. 

Creating a Digital Identity/Presence

Create a Professional Online Identity

This short tutorial explains how to set-up a LinkedIn profile that you can use to highlight your skills, search for jobs, make professional connections and find professional development opportunities and online training. 


Tips for Creating a Professional Digital Presence

  1. Creating an image online is hard work. Your personal brand should be a true representation of who you are be it personal or professional.
  2. Building a digital presence has got a lot to do with your personal branding means getting good at writing. It is always easy if it is conveyed as a story. Stories are always interesting at any age.
  3. The power of association is the most powerful personal branding skill. It's not a trick. It's fundamental to personal branding.
  4. Google your name and see how your online reputation holds up.Integrate your profile across all your online networks, professional and personal. Be consistent with your social username and your name the same across all profiles. Personal Branding is as important as your resume.
  5. Tie your personal brand to your passion. Share this passion in blogs, on social media and in emails, and eventually, your brand will be synonymous with your passion.
  6. If you want to not just build a personal brand, but breakthrough the clutter, you must be different. Think unique and be creative.
  7. By establishing and developing your online presence, you are simultaneously boosting your online network as well. It is necessary to carefully select the type and amount of information shared on different social media sites.
  8. A key takeaway is the importance of identifying how to virtually showcase yourself in the best way possible through effective communication of your personal and professional unique selling proposition in a dynamic online environment.