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What Are Transferable Skills?
As the name describes, transferable skills are skills you can transfer from job to job, or even across careers and industries. They are specific skills you can use if you’re a mechanic or a flight attendant; they do not discriminate based on organization or job title. Once you’ve developed key transferable skills, they are easily applied to any workplace.
Why Are Transferable Skills Important?
Now that you know a few highly transferable skills, let’s talk about why they could be beneficial to not only your company, but any company. Let’s review a few reasons below:
- Show your value. Possessing some of the above transferable skills shows your value to the organization. They may not know how much they need a leader in your role until you came along and demonstrated that skill is imperative to its success.
- Go beyond the job description. Many job descriptions explain exactly what the job entails and might include some of the skills above, but may leave out the necessity of effective critical thinking. Transferable skills go beyond the job description and equip employers and employers with hidden capabilities to improve any role.
- Hit the ground running. No one is going to be successfully completing every task they are assigned from day one. It takes time to learn. With transferable skills, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with teamwork and adaptability as you learn your new role and grow with the organization. While it will take you time to achieve all the deliverables, the importance of the transferable skills is not lost!
Examples of Transferable Skills
What exactly are these skills? Think about skills that would help you succeed in everyday life, not just in your workplace. Let’s look at a few transferable skills to give you a frame of reference:
Let’s face it: without effective communication, you would not be able to hold down a job at any level. Making it through phone screens, interview processes and job offers requires some level of communication. This is an essential transferable skill because the better you’re able to communicate, the more well-rounded you will become. Having the ability to communicate your ideas clearly helps avoid misunderstanding and continually allows you to take steps in your professional career.
Without polishing your critical thinking skills, you cannot make a decision by evaluating a situation and coming to a conclusion. The value of critical thinking is substantial in any role you may hold, not to mention in your everyday life. Having the ability to assess a situation and find plausible, realistic, justifiable conclusions is a great skill to be able to pull out of your hat.
While your roles may not require you to be a leader in the specific sense of the word, leadership is transferable to every job. You may not be leading a team or department, but developing this skill will help you lead yourself to success as well as those you inspire to follow. Perhaps you’re able to flex this transferable skill by taking the lead on a project or accomplishing a long-awaited goal. Taking the initiative to learn how to step up and lead will set you apart in any industry at any level.
The only constant these days is change. You may work in an industry where change happens less frequently than another. Just remember, something new may be right around the corner. Be open to change in every aspect of your current role now, whether it’s a new deliverable that needs to be met, a deadline change, or even a complete department overhaul. Having the ability to adapt to these changes and go with the flow will make you a desirable employee for any organization.
Going hand-in-hand with adaptability is the skill of organization. As the world is ever-changing, being able to organize those changing tasks is essential for your continued success. If it’s a deliverable that changed, it may throw off your entire presentation and you’re back to the drawing board with the same deadline. A little bit of organization will help you not fall behind on the project. No matter how you spin it, your company will trust you more if they see you value organization and can implement it gracefully in your work.
Some roles may be independent with little interaction with the traditional team, but at some level, we all have a team around us making teamwork a highly transferable skill. It doesn’t matter if your team consists of many colleagues or simply you and your manager, it’s still a team. Being able to work as one will set you apart. Every employer is going to want to see some version of team spirit and know that you can work well with a team. Be a team player and make sure you polish this transferable skill.
Where to Identify Transferable Skills in an Interview, Resume, or Cover Letter
It’s clear that these skills are important as people progress through careers or industries. Let’s take some time to evaluate ways that you can identify these desirable skills during the hiring process.
Summary or Objective
Look closely at the summary or objective at the beginning of the resume. Employees may note each skill that won’t be seen in their experience or job titles and draw special attention to them. Don’t overlook these.
Maybe your candidate possesses some computer networking skills that will be critical to your open role and add their transferable skills in with that list. Look not only for things like “wizard at computer reconstruction,” but also “project management,” “attention to detail,” and “creativity.” A skills list is another great way employees may draw attention to their transferable skills.
When it comes to a cover letter, your employee may work the transferable skills into their description as to why they want to work for you. They may qualify that they value their ability to effectively communicate and take initiative while working as a team. Focus on the key words of the cover letter. Many can be translated to transferrable skills so take that into account as you evaluate the employee’s job duties.
The best way to Identify transferable skills in an interview is to use the behavioral interviewing technique. Ask your candidate to give you an example of a time when they had to show exceptional teamwork and what that looked like for them. Center your questions around the transferable skills that are most important to your organization and the specific role and see how your candidate responds. If you approach the interview this way, those transferable skills are sure to stand out.
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Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department “of one”, working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!