How to identify and highlight your transferable skills

Know what they are and how to use them to impress recruiters

2 min read

April 2023

Two blue arrow signs with light bulbs inside pointed in opposite directions

Have you ever found a job that piqued your interest but weren’t sure how your experiences and skills would transfer? Well, I've got good news: there are plenty of skills that can “move” from one job to the next. They’re known as transferable skills.

Knowing what transferable skills are and how to highlight them can be the difference between a recruiter passing you by or moving you from resume review to an interview. That’s because spotlighting your transferable skills in your resume can help you connect your relevant work experience with a job’s qualifications.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are skills you’ve learned throughout your work history that may be applicable to many different jobs. They include communication, leadership, and organizational skills (to name a few). The difference between transferable skills and specialized skills is that specialized skills—like the ability to code, for example—only apply to certain types of roles.

Why do they matter? Transferable skills are important to include on your resume because when a recruiter reviews your application, it’s a good idea to show all of the skills you bring to the table. For example, if you’re going for a coding position, don’t simply mention your coding skills and call it a day. Include examples of your transferable skills (like problem-solving or organization), as well.

The goal is to make sure you’re marketing your full portfolio of skills to be competitive. That’s because when a recruiter reviews applications, someone who says they can code and effectively problem solve is preferable to someone who only lists their coding credentials.

Tips for highlighting transferable skills

Now that you have a basic understanding of transferable skills, here are some tips for identifying the right ones to include in your resume when applying for a job.

1. Find the transferable skills in the job description

Before you do anything, read the job description slowly and carefully … you don’t want to miss an important qualification. As you read, keep an eye out for any transferable skills and write them down in one column on a piece of paper. Some transferable skill examples include:

  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Project management skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Collaboration skills

2. Brainstorm examples for each transferable skill

In a second column on your piece of paper, write down examples from your work history that fit each requirement. If you have trouble coming up with examples, ask a coworker or manager to help you identify projects or work you’ve done that aligns with the transferable skills the job requires.

3. Insert your transferable skill examples into your resume

Now comes the fun part. In your resume, include your transferable skills examples using clear, concise details. Don’t use vague or general language. Instead, showcase specifics that illustrate your command of those skills.

Want more tips?

These guidelines just scratch the surface of how to showcase the talents and skills you can bring to a job. If you’re looking for more, check out our resume writing tips. Got a request for an interview? That’s great! Take a look at our interview checklist to help you prepare.

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