What Are Transferable Skills and Why Do You Need Them?

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The phrase “transferable skills” is commonly used on resumes and job descriptions, and recruiters are on the lookout for these skills when reviewing potential candidates. But what are “transferable skills,” and why are they valuable?

Transferable skills are personal traits or general know-how that can transfer well from one job to the next without the jobs being similar in responsibilities or even in the same industry.

Organization, for example, is a common transferable skill. If you’re applying for a position as an administrative office assistant, obviously being able to stay organized (and helping to keep your co-workers organized, too) will be an asset, and likely even a requirement of the job.

But the beauty of transferable skills, like organization, is that they can transfer to nearly any job. It’s all about how you view the role you’re applying for and positioning the transferable skills you already have to make your interviewer realize that you have enough life experience and general knowledge to do well with whatever new responsibilities may be asked of you.

If you’re applying for a position as an auto body repair mechanic, you might not think that saying you’re an organized person would be very relevant to the job, compared to if you were interviewing for an office admin job. But auto body repair mechanics require plenty of tools and sharing a workspace with others. Keeping shared resources in order and shared workspaces organized is important for good teamwork and co-worker relationships. Maybe the person you’re replacing was fired because that individual never picked up after himself and left shared toolboxes so messy that the other mechanics struggled to find what they needed. No matter what role or industry you’re in, being an organized person is a helpful trait to have.

Here’s a list of some common transferrable skills you might consider including in your resume:

  • Communications skills you have - speaking, listening, email, phone, etc.
  • Creative problem solving skills
  • Ordering/tracking goods and supplies
  • Decision-making abilities
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Equipment operation - list specific equipment
  • Goal setting
  • Ability to learn quickly
  • Character traits - energetic, pleasant, helpful, trustworthy, efficient, organized, dependable, flexible, self-assured, considerate, punctual, loyal, precise, resourceful
  • Ability to delegate
  • Takes instructions
  • Motivates others
  • Customer service
  • Supervisory experience
  • Time management