It’s common for job seekers to get so caught up in dry recitations of their work history that they forget about some of the other critical areas they need to cover on a resume. And while most people recognize the need to refer to their critical job skills in the body of a resume, many often forget to include other resume skills that may be relevant for the position they’re seeking.
A subset of your skills become very important when you’re making a career change: your transferable skills. These are skills from your work history that will also benefit you in a new industry.
In this article, we’re defining what transferable skills are, providing a bunch of examples of these skills, and showing you how to use them to land a new job. By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly which skills to highlight and where to showcase them on your resume.
Let’s get started!
What are transferable skills?
Every job requires a certain set of skills in order to succeed. These skills are often prerequisites to being considered for employment, since the job is all but impossible to do without them.
For example, computer technicians need to be skilled in computer technology if they are to properly do their jobs. But if that computer technician decides to pursue a career in customer service or management, those technical skills may not be as relevant.
However, that same technician is likely to have other skills that can be applied to any new position. Those are known as transferable skills, because they can be taken from one job to the next. Your transferable skills might show up on every version of your resume, or may be your secret weapon for a targeted career change resume.
In some cases, your transferable skills include skills that you’ve developed since childhood, but haven’t come up in your professional life. Many transferable skills are more generalized talents and abilities that can be utilized in a wide variety of employment settings.
We’ll go over several examples of these different types of transferable skills later on in this post.
Can all skills be considered transferable?
Not all of your professional skills are going to be relevant to every job. This is even more true when it comes to transferable skills for career transition resumes.
Relevance is your first clue to identifying what skills you should include on your resume and job application. You want your skills, experience, and qualifications to be as relevant as possible for each job you apply to. In most cases, you should refer to the job description for clues about what the employer thinks is relevant.
Transferable skills for your resume
There are three types of skills that are most likely to be most relevant and transferable:
- Soft skills
- Technical skills
- Analytical skills
Soft skills help you work well with people. Technical skills help you work with computers and other machines. Analytical skills help you work with information and data management.
Next up are several examples of each type of transferable skills.
1. Soft skills
Soft skills can also be called people skills or interpersonal skills. This type of skill set includes basic communication skills, management skills, and similar talents that help you work with people.
Here are some specific examples:
- Leadership opportunities
- Listening skills
- Written communication
- Public speaking
- Oral communication
- Critiquing skills
- The ability to coordinate group actions
- Complaint management
- Mentoring skills
- Supervisory skills
- Motivational speaking
- Recruitment and hiring
- Interview skills
- Personnel scheduling
- The ability to manage meetings
- Resource management
These types of skills are particularly valuable when transitioning careers, because nearly all jobs involve working with people to some extent. The trick to displaying your soft skills on your resume is to add details and context. Essentially you want to incorporate examples of using your soft skills throughout your experience section, along with results or context whenever possible.
Here’s an example from our Marketing Assistant Resume Example of using soft skills in a bullet point:
• Participated in customer improvement strategies through email tracking, market research, analytics and organization and distribution of merchandise and research reports.
💡ZipTip: you can learn more about the best ways to highlight communication skills in our primer on Including Communication Skills on a Resume (Examples and Tips).
2. Technical Skills
Technical skills are hands-on. These are the skills that you can do with your hands, whether it involves installing, maintaining, or repairing equipment or important skills like designing and building websites.
There are too many to fully list here–they tend to change based on your past industry and future career goals–but these are some common skills that should help to identify your exceptional technical skills:
- Computer installation and repair
- Equipment inspections
- Communications equipment setup and management
- Audio/video technology
- Designing website structures
- Building websites
- Similar skills that involve hands-on activities
If you’re coming from a highly technical background, you might need to include a technical skills section on your resume. This will include skills like computer programing languages and specific software you’re trained on.
If you only have a few technical skills that remain relevant to your current career goals, however, you can limit your technical skills and include them in your resume summary, core competencies, or education and certifications section.
3. Analytical Skills
Data-based analytical skills include a wide variety of skills that involve the accumulation, organization, manipulation, and presentation of data. For example:
- Record management
- Information or content strategy
- Form and report designs
- Clerical skills
- Database management
- Spreadsheet management
- Information collation
- Billing abilities
- Desktop publishing
- Problem identification
- Inventory management
- Information analysis
- Time management
- Event planning
- Crisis resolution
For many people, analytical skills come in to play when you have to communicate numbers to people. Often, technical skills like tools and software aid you in reaching these goals.
Here is an example of using analytical skills within the experience section:
• Develop and strategize charitable events focused on college students and the surrounding communities, raising up to $xxK annually.
View the full resume here: Special Events Coordinator Resume Example & Template for 2020
How should you use transferable skills on your resume?
As mentioned above, there are multiple places to incorporate your skills throughout your resume. Your transferable skills are especially important to display, as they set you apart from an entry-level candidate.
Some might assume that your transferable skills are secondary to your more directly relevant skills, but that’s not true. In fact, many of these transferable skills are every bit as important as those primary skills that employers are seeking. There are a few great ways you can feature your transferable skills prominently.
Start by creating a list of your skills. This is not only a good exercise that allows you to better assess your existing set of skills, but will also help to ensure that you don’t leave anything important out. While this may end up being part of your flexible resume, this list is just for your own reference at this point.
Simply listing a bunch of soft skills on your resume isn’t very effective or compelling. Instead, you should list a few key skills as your core competencies, focusing on technical and analytical skills. Your soft skills are best when you use them throughout your work experience section. Since your ability to work with people is hard to measure, any details, results, and value you can prove will help your soft skills shine.
You can also add soft skills in any summary of your qualifications or in your resume title to ensure that the employer takes note of them. After all, anyone can claim to be a leader. Not everyone can honestly cite an example of a time when they’ve actually demonstrated leadership, however.
Your transferable skills are the most valuable type of skill to display on your resume when you’re transitioning careers or industries.They just might be the thing that tips the job search scales in your favor and lands you the job of your dreams.
Good luck with your job search!