What are Transferrable Skills?

Transferrable skills are those more generic skills that you build and develop during your working life or during your education/ volunteering, that are useful no matter what job you are doing.  So if you are looking to change career or take a new job in a different sector, then demonstrating your transferrable skills to an employer is very important.  Describing in slightly more detail your transferable skills can show an employer that what you have learnt in a previous job or through your education can be applied to your new role.

Photo of a lady demonstrating professional skills

Some employers think that employees with good transferrable and basic skills, plus a good attitude and work ethic are the best people to take on.  They can train you in very specific vocational skills needed to do a job, but having someone with for instance, good customer service and communication skills might be vital to a role.

Below are some of the more generic, transferrable skills and ways to describe them in your CV or application.  Beware just saying things like “ I have good communication/customer service/ IT skills” – this doesn’t tell the employer anything about you – always try to give examples to back it up where you can.

  1. Communication skills

Think of how you used your communication skills in your previous job or during your education/ work placement etc.  Then describe a scenario or situation when you communicated well with others to achieve an objective.

These can be verbal or written communications – e.g.  emails to colleagues/ writing reports – setting out what you achieved – For instance:  “sent regular progress reports via email to senior managers/ colleagues to keep them fully updated and ensure tasks were being completed on time”

Or, if you have previously worked in a customer facing role, you could say: “achieved a high standard of customer service by communicating clearly our company policy to customers and thereby resolving any issues that arose.”

Or if you have little work experience you can draw on your experience from education/ university –  for instance,  “while at University, I made a number of presentations where  I was a confident public speaker and I enjoyed presenting my ideas to others”.


  1. Organisational skills

Again, try to avoid saying “I am very organised or I have good organisational skills” without backing it up.  An example could be:

“Tasked with completing X job within a set deadline, I achieved this by planning my work in advance and then effectively managing my time throughout”

This could be adapted for any scenario where you had to plan and prioritise to meet a deadline – perhaps to complete an assignment at University or college as well.


  1. Teamwork and interpersonal skills

Again, give an example of where you have worked well in a team situation to achieve a common goal.

“I worked confidently in a team of X people, where good rapport and team spirit were the key to us achieving our objectives to a high standard and within tight deadlines.”

This type of scenario can show an employer you are used to working with others and will have no issue getting along with new colleagues. This is also true for students as they often spend time working in groups on set topics/ projects and can show how they collaborated.


  1. Leadership skills

You don’t necessarily need to have been in a management position to show leadership skills.  An example might be:

“While working in a small team, I took the initiative and delegated different tasks within the group – to ensure we met the target of X within the deadline”.

This shows the employer you have problem-solving skills and the ability to evaluate and make logical decisions.

Another scenario might be “When faced with a decision, I looked at all the options and possible outcomes and chose the option which would be in the best interest of the company.”

This also shows problem solving skills but also professionalism/loyalty in that you are able to put the company’s best interests first.


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