Transferable skills


Career Specialist

As you begin your job search or consider careers you want to pursue, it’s important to know what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. Many skills acquired through- out your life are transferable to many occupations. Transferable skills are skills you have acquired doing any activity in your life – job, education, hobbies, parenting, volunteer work, sports, virtually anything – that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your next job.

To be successful in a job search, you must relate your skill set to the job description and support it with accomplishments. In addition to being useful to career changers, transferable skills are also important to those facing layoffs, new graduates looking for their first job, and those re-entering the workforce after an extended absence.

What Skills are Important to Employers?

According to the 2012 National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook Survey, the top 10 qualities employers seek are transferable skills: ability to work in a team environment; ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization; ability to make decisions and solve problems; ability to obtain and process information; ability to plan, organize and prioritize work; ability to analyze quantitative data; technical knowledge related to the job; proficiency with computer software programs; ability to create and/or edit written reports; and an ability to sell or influence others.

Employers are looking for someone who is engaging and enthusiastic. Your ability to connect with others as well as with the recruiter demonstrates your interpersonal skill set.

Once you have identified transferable skills, you need to develop them into statements you can make in an interview, which demonstrates to an employer you are the best person for the job.

  • Transferable skill: “I am good at explaining.”
  • Example: “Whenever anyone at work had trouble understanding a procedure, they came to me for an explanation.”
  • Demonstrates to the employer: “I can learn quickly, train new workers, and help others.”

When composing your resume and cover letter, focus on skills required in the job description. Utilize the transferable skill concept to demonstrate how your experience matches what the employer is seeking. If you are demonstrating your written communication and attention to detail skills, be sure you have proofread your cover letter and resume. A mistake on either will indicate a weakness in this critical transferable skill.

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Kathi Weilbacher is a Career Specialist with the Southwestern Illinois Workforce Investment Act office in the Monroe County Courthouse. She can be reached at 939-3332 or

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