Want to make a career change? Look at your transferable skills.

If you're contemplating changing careers or job position, you'll need to ensure that your transferable skills are incorporated in your resume. But what are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are the skills that you have acquired from past positions, college experience, volunteering, hobbies, and more that are transferable to a different job role, industry, or work environment. These skills are highly valuable on your resume since they demonstrate to employers that you can use your existing skills to adapt to a new job description or completely different industry.

Below are some common transferable skills, divided into four main categories: people, management, research and planning, and computer and technical skills.

People skills

People skills are soft skills you use to interact with people, such as customers, vendors, patients, colleagues, and students. Examples of people skills include:

  • constructive criticism, 

  • receiving feedback

  • negotiating 

  • motivating others

  • managing complaints

  • coaching

  • building strong customer relationships

  • collaborating

  • mentoring juniors

  • resolving conflicts

  • gaining customers' confidence 

People skills are applicable in any line of work and are highly sought-after in the job market these days. 

Sometimes, one may have these transferable people skills and not even realize it. For instance, let's say someone has been working in customer service for the past few years. Because of this, they have excellent communication skills and are used to dealing with all kinds of personalities. 

One day, they come across an attractive job offer as a sales promoter for a pharmaceutical company. Although they have no sales experience, they may still qualify for the job based on their transferable skills. Their experience with managing customers' expectations will definitely come in handy when it comes to convincing people to buy products and negotiating a good price in this new sales role.

Management skills 

Management skills are the skills you need to supervise and manage a team or project effectively. Examples include:  

  • overseeing budgets 

  • recruiting new hires 

  • interviewing job candidates 

  • supervising employees 

  • managing the team schedule 

  • presiding over meetings 

  • evaluating employees

  • organizing committees 

Management skills are universal — they can be learned in any line of work and are transferable across many industries. For instance, an operations manager from a chain restaurant can easily fit into the role of manager at a local Airbnb business, regardless of how different the two industries may seem to be. Their experience in managing day-to-day operations at the restaurant, including operating within the provided budget and managing a team of different personalities, will come in handy when running an Airbnb. Additionally, the ability to supervise and motivate employees will be highly useful when it comes to moving up to even higher management positions.

Research and planning skills

Research and planning skills can include both the technical and soft skills that are gained from project management. Examples of these skills are: 

  • identifying problems and root causes

  • evaluating possible solutions

  • defining the organization's needs

  • setting goals

  • prioritizing tasks

  • analyzing information and forecasting results

  • managing deadlines

  • creating policies

  • coordinating programs

  • conducting literature reviews

  • producing reports 

These types of skills are transferable and highly sought-after across industries. For instance, someone that has been working as a project manager in a charitable organization can use the planning skills that they gained to transition into working at a consultancy firm. The experience they've had overseeing their charity project from the beginning to completion, coupled with the skills of managing deadlines, forecasting needs and output, and managing tight deadlines would come in handy when handling customers' projects and funds in this new role. 

Computer and technical skills

Computer and technical skills may not be required for all job roles, but they are certainly transferable across industries. Examples of these skills are:

  • proficiency in software, such as Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Photoshop

  • using job-related equipment or machinery

  • troubleshooting problems with hardware, software, and inspecting equipment

While some technical skills may be niche, many others are universal. For instance, a data analyst who is highly proficient in Microsoft Excel may very well fit into the role of a risk advisor, using their skills in analyzing potential risks with various Microsoft Excel tools. Similarly, someone who is well-versed in Adobe Photoshop, whether through training or self-taught, has the potential of succeeding as a graphic designer — even without any prior experience in the role.

Adding transferable skills to your resume

Your resume should convince the prospective employer that you're a qualified candidate; this is where your transferable skills come in. 

You can either include them in your professional summary or in the core competencies section of your resume, also known as “Areas of Expertise”. Be honest when adding your skills — it can be tempting to oversell yourself to land an interview. But this would easily backfire when you're asked specific questions that you can't answer. 

Additionally, ensure that you take time to understand the specific skills and competencies that are required for the role you're applying for. Your resume should be tailored to each job description; don't ever mass email a generic resume to multiple job openings. Once you have a full understanding of the job description, make sure to alter your professional summary and narrow down your core competencies to the relevant transferable skills needed for the job. 

This will make a huge difference for both getting your resume through the applicant tracking system (ATS) and impressing the hiring manager. 

Whether you're changing jobs or changing careers, utilizing your transferable skills will help you stand out in your next job search. 

Not sure if you're showcasing your transferable skills on your resume? Get a free critique today to check. 

This article was updated in July 2020. It was originally written by TopResume Editor.

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