Transferable skills - what are they and have you got them.9th April 2019
To be successful throughout the application and interview process, it is important to identify the skills that a hiring manager is looking for, and make sure that you really demonstrate that you possess these qualities and abilities.
These skills are given to you in the job description. Whilst some might be more technical, such as qualifications, others will be more general or ‘soft’ skills, such as team work or communication. These ‘softer’ skills are known as transferable skills and are just as important in terms of success at securing the position that you have applied for.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are those that are gained in one experience and can be applied or transferred into another. They are not necessarily gained from employment alone – you can develop transferable skills from a hobby or sport, apprenticeship, internship, voluntary work or study.
These can be:
Social skills: teamwork, communication and listening.
Professional skills: leadership, punctuality and data analysis.
Why are transferable skills important?
Transferable skills are included in the job description as they are qualities that are repeatedly seen in some of the most successful employees. Skills such as self-discipline, motivation, listening, patience e.t.c.
Often these will be social as well as professional skills – the hiring manager wants to find someone that will be a good fit for their team, as well as for the role itself.
It’s important that you demonstrate your experience of these qualities, as well as the technical skills (such as qualifications or professional experience).
This will ensure that you really stand out from the crowd as a well-rounded candidate and prove that you are right for the role you have applied for.
What if I don’t have any transferable skills?
It can always be tricky to think analytically about what you are good at. The best thing about transferable skills is that you can pick them up from literally any experience, so you probably have developed more of these than you may think.
A good place to start would be to write a list of the key transferable skills stated in the job description. Write next to this list an example of a time when you performed this skill to the best of your ability.
These don’t necessarily have to be employment-related, as shown in these examples:
Team work: Part of the local football team – worked together to reach the top of the league.
Organisation: Every morning I get my three children ready for school, drop them at before-school care and arrive early to work to prepare my office round of drinks for 7:50am.
Time management: I had three deadlines due on the same day for university and managed to achieve a first in all three.
How do you explain your transferable skills on your CV?
Listing your own experience of the transferable skills on the job description is a great way to start thinking about real-life examples of how you have used these skills in a practical sense.
When writing about transferable skills on your CV, always use an example, and language that really promotes a positive attitude and a focus on achieving positive change / results (as above).
2016-2017: Internship at H20 Science, Newcastle: time management, organisation and effective prioritisation were essential to ensure that I continued my personal development in gaining experience in biology, whilst maintaining a 2:1 at university.
How do you explain your transferable skills in an interview?
DO NOT: dwell on the skills that you haven’t got. Try to show that you are positive, successful and ambitious. It is better to discuss skills that you have little experience in, than no experience at all. A hiring manager wants to see that you are excited to continue your personal development – being ambitious and taking on a new challenge is often admirable.
DO: Always be honest. A hiring manager will be able to tell from your CV what experience you generally have, and lying will impact negatively on your chances of employment. Phrase that your lack of experience is a learning curve that you are excited about, and a particular reason you applied for the role, for example:
Conflict Management: Conflict is something that I generally avoid, however I have acted as the mediator during heated office conversations in my current position. In the past I have successfully helped both sides find a resolution, and I would therefore look forward to the opportunity of stepping out of my comfort zone and further developing my conflict management skills when required in my new role.
DO: use the work you put into writing about your transferable skills on your CV in your interview. This thought process will ensure that you understand the transferable skills that you are most comfortable with / have the most experience in. Matching these with the job description will develop your understanding of which of these skills are most relevant to the role that you have applied for, and valued by the company ethos.