Valued across industries, transferable skills can unlock new career doors

You know that having and showing off skills is important in your job search, but did you know that there are different types of skills? Each type is valuable if you're looking to change careers or progress from your current job. Some skills, in particular, can boost your employability whatever sector you're in. Here, we define what transferable skills are, provide examples for different professions, and explain how to effectively include them on your CV.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills, sometimes called soft skills, are those that are not specific to one particular type of job. For example, if you're good at negotiating, that's a skill that can be used whether you're in sales, management, or purchasing. Something like coding, however, isn't a transferable skill; it's listed on a CV as a hard skill as it only applies to one specific industry.

When you're applying for a job, you need to demonstrate a healthy mix of both hard and soft skills.

Why are transferable skills important?

Before we take a look at some transferable skills examples, let's talk about why they're so important. Transferable skills matter because: 

They show employers that you're a team player

Transferable skills often allow us to collaborate well with others. For example, being a reflective listener means that you can easily understand what your coworkers tell you, allowing you to contribute quickly and efficiently to the team. On the other hand, having excellent time management skills means that you're able to help them hit deadlines. 

They allow you to move from role to role 

Few people stay in the same job forever. Whether you're changing careers or simply climbing the corporate ladder, you'll likely end up wearing many different hats. Having a selection of transferable skills means that you can easily get to grips with the tasks of each new position. For instance, having a high level of organisation is always going to be a valuable talent across any department, unit, or sector.

They harness and highlight your adaptability

One of the great benefits of having transferable skills is that you can be more responsive to changing professional demands. If a certain department or team needs support, you're at the ready. You can use your soft skills to give them the help that they need during tough periods. Chances are, the management team will notice this level of adaptability and it will work in your favour when new roles crop up. 

They help boost your network

Transferable skills are not merely about bolstering your CV. You can use these skills to up your networking game and make some valuable connections. For instance, you might use your communication skills to effectively convey your talents to a hiring manager. 

Sought-after transferable skills for your CV

Certain soft skills are always in demand – no wonder you see these transferable skills listed time and again across job adverts. Even as you progress up the career ladder, you'll find that the same skills are still valued, albeit at a higher level. Key examples are:

  • Communication: negotiation, influencing, facilitation, reporting or presenting, public speaking, training

  • Teamwork: sharing ideas, collaboration, building relationships

  • Leadership: delegation, coaching, managing change, decision-making, problem-solving, training

  • Organisation: planning, meeting deadlines, prioritising, forecasting, setting goals, time management

  • Customer service: handling enquiries, resolving complaints

  • Financial administration: handling cash, processing expenses, setting budgets, controlling costs

  • Languages: relevant expertise in any foreign language, written or spoken

Transferable skills examples for sales professionals

For sales professionals, the ability to close sales is the priority. To achieve this, many different transferable skills are required including building a rapport, listening, developing relationships, negotiating, persuading, influencing, customer service, and the ability to achieve targets.

To include these on your CV, you'll need to identify specific examples of how and when you've used these skills. Bonus points if you can include positive outcomes or quantifiable results. For example: "Surpassed targets by an average of 10% per month," or "Received positive feedback from customer satisfaction surveys for delivering consistently exceptional service."

Transferable skills examples for travel professionals

Travel professionals need strong organisational skills, a focus on customer service, and the ability to communicate with a wide range of people, among other skills.

Consider how you've already demonstrated these in your life so far; maybe whilst at university, you organised a fundraiser or event. Maybe as a personal assistant, you were responsible for managing a busy diary and planning meetings. Both demonstrate excellent organisational skills, which, whilst not gained in the same industry, can be easily transferred to travel.

Transferable skills examples for advertising professionals

To work in advertising, you'll need skills such as creativity, collaboration, and project management. These can be incorporated into your CV with a link to an online portfolio and details of a project (university or professional) that you managed through to a successful conclusion, even if that project was not related to advertising.

Transferable skills examples for hospitality professionals

Naturally, customer service is the number one transferable skill required to secure a career in hospitality. These roles are usually very customer-facing, so you'll need to emphasise the communication and interpersonal skills that showcase your ability to build relationships, well as your problem-solving abilities.

Luckily, these are very common transferable skills that you can bring out in your CV through previous professional work experience, hobbies, and voluntary roles. Again, specific examples are more impactful than vague, sweeping statements.

Who needs transferable skills on their CV?

Every job seeker needs transferable skills on their CV. Whilst most people will find that these skills shine through naturally on their CV, emphasising those skills is absolutely crucial for certain types of job hunters. 

In particular, people wishing to change careers and those just leaving education will need to put much more focus on their transferable skills to make up for the lack of hard skills and work experience in the field they're aiming for.

Where to include transferable skills on your CV

Ready to start listing some transferable skills on your CV? You have two main options to consider here:

Dedicated CV section

The most obvious place to highlight your transferable skills is in a dedicated section, which you can call "Key Skills," "Core Competencies" or "Areas of Expertise." 

For most job seekers, this section will focus on hard skills directly relevant to a specific role, but for career changers and university graduates, this is where transferable skills will come into their own.

Other CV sections 

There are also other sections on your CV where you can make reference to your transferable skills. The profile section and personal statement is a prime spot to highlight the one or two skills most relevant to the job you're aiming for. 

Additionally, in your career history, you can include some transferable skills, rather than (or as well as) industry- or role-specific skills. And, if you choose to include a hobbies section on your CV, this is the perfect place to advertise skills you've acquired outside of work.

Tips for including transferable skills on your CV

There's an art to understanding what transferable skills to include on your CV. Before you get started, below are some key pointers to make these skills work to your advantage when applying for jobs:

Do some research first 

To include transferable skills on your CV, first identify the key skills that apply to the kind of job you're targeting. To do this, look through relevant job adverts and analyse the LinkedIn profiles of people currently in similar roles.

Include the most in-demand skills 

Another strategic move is identifying what transferable skills are sought-after in your target sector. Once you know these in-demand skills, you can start to work them into your CV. Make sure to weave them into your CV naturally or include them in such a way that they'll stand out.

Add some specific examples 

You'll make the biggest impact by providing specific examples, rather than by simply stating you have a certain skill. Consider the credibility of "Possesses good customer service skills" against “Delivered excellent customer service by resolving complaints quickly" or "Achieved 95% in mystery shopping assessments."

Advance your career with transferable skills 

Transferable skills are a vital part of your job search ‒ and your CV. They enable you to show a recruiter or employer how your skills align with the requirements of the role, even if your experience doesn't directly relate.

Even those wishing to move up the career ladder in the same industry can maximise the use of transferable skills on their CV to demonstrate that they have the higher-level abilities required to progress. The key is to integrate them naturally into your CV with examples, rather than just adding one long, dry list. 

What are the transferable skills you have on your CV – and are you properly showcasing them? Submit it for a free CV review and let our experts help you out.

This article was originally written by Jen David and has been updated by Charlotte Grainger.

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