What are transferable skills?

what are transferable skills

Not sure you have the right skills for a role? You may be surprised…

Transferable skills are a great way to show you’re a great fit for the role, regardless of previous experience. And the best part? Everyone has them.

If you’re not sure how to make transferable skills work for you, here are a few things to remember:


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What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are a core set of skills and abilities, which can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries.

They’re usually picked up over time, and can be gained from previous positions, charity or volunteer work, taking a course, your hobbies, or even just at home.

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Why are transferable skills important?

Although slightly softer skills than those directly related to a position, transferable skills are incredibly valuable to employers.

Not only do they show that you’d be a good fit for the team, they can also demonstrate what a candidate can bring to a role, and how much they’ve learnt from previous positions or experiences.

So if you’re currently lacking experience in the field you’re looking for work in, transferable skills can be a great way to highlight why you’re right for the role. Examples of when this can be helpful include entry-level positions, and those looking to change careers.

To find out more about how to make the most of your transferable skills, read our career change CV template.

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills


What are some examples of transferable skills?

Although this is by no means a comprehensive list, here are some great examples of transferable skills you can use in your CV:

  • Leadership

This skill is extremely versatile, and whilst it’s typically linked to management positions, being a good leader is essential in almost every job – even if only in some situations.

To reference it in your CV, refer to times where you’ve demonstrated great leadership – whether it’s through motivating others in order to achieve a shared goal, leading a project, heading up training and development for a team, or even through your hobbies and interests (e.g. coaching a sports team).

  • Time management

Time management is a vital skill for any role, that not only proves you can work to deadlines – but also that you’re able to complete tasks in the most time-effective way, create to-do-lists, delegate, ask for help, and break up projects accordingly.

Whether it’s that you’ve had experience stacking shelves within a set time in a retail store, you’ve completed projects within a deadline, or you’ve carried out construction work that met the time-sensitive needs of a client, you’ll have at least one example of time management to reference in your CV.

  • Prioritisation

Prioritising tasks effectively is essential if you want to get anything done, on time, and to a high standard. That’s why it’s a key skill that the vast majority of employers value.

Prove you’re able to assess your workload, adjust your schedule, and organise tasks in order of importance by giving tangible examples in your CV. For example, it could be that your ability to be ruthless and say no to certain tasks enabled you to complete others which had a higher level of importance, or you implemented time saving techniques to get small tasks done faster (e.g. spreadsheets, templates).

  • Delegation

Whilst delegation is primarily important for managers, supervisors, or anyone in a senior position, that doesn’t mean those without a background in management aren’t able to demonstrate this skill.

For example, if you’ve ever mentored or tutored someone (whether it was at work or school), or trained another colleague in a particular system, procedure, or task, you’ll be able to prove you could be a good delegator. It’s all about how you frame your skills, the examples you give, and how you link back to the criteria specified in the job description.

  • Listening

Let’s face it, everyone is likely to have good listening skills, no matter where your experience lies. This means demonstrating them in your CV should be easy.

Think about times where your ability to listen well resulted in a positive outcome – whether it’s that you’re great at following instructions (which meant your work was done specifically to a client’s requirements), you’re able to absorb knowledge quickly when taught (whether it was in a meeting, at university, or anywhere else), or you delivered excellent customer service by listening carefully to a customer’s needs.

  • Communication

Although it’s particularly important in customer facing industries, good communication is an extremely versatile skill that’s an important part of every role – which contributes to the smooth running of any workplace.

Luckily, that means everyone has it. Examples of communication skills could range from instances where you communicated with a customer or client to fulfil their needs or resolve a problem, to times where you worked together with your colleagues to achieve a joint goal.

  • Research & analysis  

Many roles require some level of research and analysis ability – making it an important skill to make known to employers.

The examples you include may differ depending on the role and what’s required (particularly if the vacancy calls for harder skills, e.g. knowledge of Google Analytics), but a basic level of research and analysis skills can be shown in anything from university essays, to any form of gathering, organising, and evaluating information – whether it’s sales figures, website visits, or technical reports.


What transferable skills should I include in my CV?

If you’re not sure which ones you should include for a particular role – check the job description. Employers will often explicitly state their criteria, and much of this is made up of soft skills.

Simply pick out the words which seem most relevant, and think of ways you may be able to display similar attributes – emphasising to how they could benefit the employer you’re applying for a job with.

And remember: always expand on any skills you mention with real-life examples (and, if possible, results).

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How do I demonstrate them on my CV?

OK, so everyone has some sort of transferable skills. But how do you show them to employers?

The most important thing to remember is to choose examples that you can practically demonstrate on your CV. Saying you’re excellent at analytics is good, but you won’t stand out from the crowd unless you can prove it.

So for each one, think of an example of how you’ve shown this skill. It could be in the workplace, or outside, as long as it effectively backs up your claim. For example:

Don’t say:  ‘Great leadership skills’

Do say: ‘Excellent leadership skills, demonstrated when I successfully managed a small team of individuals on a three day hike for a charity event’ 

Just make sure that you can back it up.

Recruiters will quickly realise if you’re not being truthful at the interview stage, so always steer clear of lying if you want to avoid embarrassing situations.

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One thought on “What are transferable skills?

  1. Applying academic skills to a professional work environment | Surrey Careers blog - February 9, 2019 at 13:30

    […] https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/what-are-transferable-skills/ […]