Transferable Job Skills to Show On a Resume
When you’re changing careers, transferable skills quickly become the most important element of your resume. A career change means you probably don’t have much in the way of direct experience in your new field. That being the case, you need to know how to show prospective employers how the transferable skills you’ve learned can apply to new challenges.
Every job you take is an opportunity for growth. Even an entry level position may help you improve your communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. But because transferable skills tend to be picked up naturally and not explicitly trained, it can be difficult to identify what your skills are. And claiming you have skills may mean little if you don’t know how to demonstrate them to employers.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills are generalized abilities that have application in a variety of circumstances. They include things like leadership, communication, listening, and time management. Soft skills like these are essential to many jobs, but they’re not the kind of thing that employers can easily train. And how many people have a degree in leadership or time management?
It’s not always obvious what soft skills you have, but take a minute to think about your past experience and the skills you exercised on a regular basis. Did you pick up any research skills from your education? Did your past job teach you how to set goals, handle a crisis, or generate a budget? Identifying your own skills is only a matter of thinking about the challenges you’ve undertaken, and how you arose to the challenge.
By contrast, hard skills include things like being able to code, or being able to speak multiple languages. Hard skills are often easy to demonstrate through a certificate or degree. But when it comes to a job application, it’s often the case that almost every qualified applicant will have similar hard skills. That’s a large part of the reason why soft skills can be equally important as hard skills for landing a job.
Unfortunately, soft skills can be more difficult to demonstrate than hard skills. When you tell prospective employers about your soft skills, most aren’t going to take your word for it. That’s why you should only mention skills if you can help confirm the claim. For example, don’t say you’re a “quick learner” if you can’t find a way to back it up.
Types of Transferable Skills Employers Look For
Being able to work with others is a common requirement for many types of jobs, but being a team player isn’t something everybody is great at. Teamwork is about being able to fit-in and contribute to the group. And whether it’s an entry-level or a managerial position, teamwork can be essential. For showing employers you’re a team player, try to provide some real examples of a problem you faced as a group, and how you worked with the rest of the group to solve the problem.
Leadership is another quality that employers frequently seek. Even if you're not applying for a leadership position, it can be important to be able to show you have the capacity to take charge under certain circumstances. Being able to lead lets your employer know they can delegate responsibilities to you, and signals that you may have potential for growth as an employee.
Effective leadership is actually composed of many skills, like being able to motivate others, set goals, and effectively communicate. These smaller skills are often formed through activities that don’t explicitly require you to lead. If you haven’t specifically undertaken a leadership role in the past, you can still demonstrate qualities of leadership by highlighting experiences where you took initiative, or otherwise stepped up to a challenge.
Management is another essential skill for almost anyone with aspirations of climbing a career ladder. Whether you’re managing other people, managing a project, or just managing your own time, it all comes down to responsibility. Management is about seeing the big picture, which allows you to make better long term decisions.
Verbal and written communication are among the most commonly requested soft skills for any job. Even non-writers may end up producing work emails, reports, presentations, and similar written materials. And being able to clearly convey ideas verbally can critical for day-to-day meetings. Having the best idea in the room doesn’t amount to much if you can’t convince others that you’re right.
Employers want effective communicators because communication is a large part of working day-to-day with other people, and a critical element of most large projects. It will be invaluable to employers if you can demonstrate yourself capable of communicating complex ideas, negotiating, or being able to be assertive yet polite.
Employers are also on the prowl for people with research skills. Dealing with technical reports, sales figures, and other complicated information is a regular part of many careers. Being able to analyze and evaluate information prepares you to take on more responsibilities. For the most part, research and analytical skills are something you probably developed during your education. You can highlight the quality of your research skills by focusing on things like your experience with time management, problem solving, prioritization, and organization.
Why Are Transferable Skills Important For My Resume?
Most of the time, hard skills only partially indicate how qualified you are for a job. For employers looking to find the perfect candidate, transferable skills can be just as important as any certification. Soft skills show you have room for growth as a professional, and they help show you’re fully capable of handling every aspect of a job. And for changing careers, transferable skills become even more important because they can demonstrate how your seemingly unrelated past experiences actually make you the best candidate.
The only challenge is knowing how to pitch those soft skills to prospective employers. If you’re still not certain what steps you need to take to perfect your resume, take a look at our Career Planning Resources to get pointed in the right direction.