Resume Tips

Transferable Skills: How to Use Them For Job Search

transferable skills

When you want to break into a new business sector, land a more senior role, or change the course of your career entirely, there’s one thing that’s stopping you — lack of relevant skills.

But I bet you that it isn’t true. Even if you are planning for a clean start in a completely new role, high chances are you won’t be starting from ground zero. Why?

Because if you’ve been employed for at least several years, you’ve already developed a staunch set of transferable skills.

What are Transferable Skills? 

Here’s a short ‘transferable skills’ definition:

Transferable skills stand for abilities and expertise that can be applied across different roles and industries. 

In essence, transferable skills denote competencies that can come in handy in multiple work contexts. For example, knowledge of project management apps such as Trello or Asana can be equally useful for an entry-level customer service representative and marketing management role. 

Transferable skills also include both hard and soft skills

  • Transferable hard skills are functional and technical skills that you’ve acquired over the years, across different roles and projects. For example, your foreign language skills or Excel knowledge can be valuable to different types of employers. 
  • Transferable soft skills stand for a sum of your personal character traits and interpersonal skills. Some of the good soft skills examples in this category include strong communication skills, team-work, problem-solving, and leadership skills among others. 

Most people acquire transferable skills throughout their careers and outside of the workplace. Expertise and experience you’ve gained while volunteering, working side-jobs, interning, or mentoring others can help you gain in-demand skills for your resume. 

The best part? You probably already have a bunch of transferable skills that can help you market yourself better for a new role or even a new career vertical entirely. 

A Quick Transferable Skills List For a Resume 

Here are several more examples of transferable skills, worthy to be included in your resume: 

1. Analytical Skills

Analytical skills denote your abilities to think crucially, process information effectively, and draw conclusions. A person with an analytical mindset relies on logical reasoning to solve everyday problems and can uncover hidden patterns in data and present them to others.

typing report

What’s even more important is that nearly every industry needs people with good analytical and problem-solving skills. In fact,  58% of business leaders say that analytics is important to their business now, and for 82% such skillsets will become even more important in five years.

Here are several examples of transferable analytical skills to add to your resume:

  • Reporting
  • Data mining
  • Forecasting 
  • Brainstorming 
  • Researching
  • Reporting 
  • Troubleshooting
  • Strategic analysis 

Get even more examples of analytics skills.

2. Communication Skills 

Great workplaces run on stellar communication. So understandably, most employers look for people who can coherently interact with others and more importantly — listen to what their colleagues, managers, and other stakeholders are trying to say to them. 

All of the above makes good communicators and an in-demand asset to any company. So if you are one, highlight the following transferable skills on your resume:

  • Active listening
  • Persuasion
  • Meeting facilitation 
  • Negotiation 
  • Conflict management 
  • Mediation 
  • Storytelling 
  • Interviewing 
  • Writing & editing 
  • Technological communication

Learn more about which interpersonal skills to list on your resume

3. Management and organization skills 

It doesn’t matter whether you held a formal ‘manager’ title or not. If you can create concrete plans, rally people around the set goals, and oversee the successful competition of the set initiative, chances are that you have some good managerial skills. 

project management

Also, ‘management’ is a rather lofty concept these days and can cover anything from leading a team of two marketing interns to heading a 1,000 people department. But, in both cases, good managers share a host of similar skills such as:

  • Project management
  • Planning
  • Monitoring 
  • Logistics
  • Action planning
  • Risk management 
  • Scheduling 
  • Quality control
  • Performance management 
  • Process optimization. 

4. Technical Skills 

Given the current rate of digitization across industries, most employers expect job candidates to be ‘digitally literate’. 

The digital literacy is defined by the American Library Association (ALA) as follow:

the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. 

In other words, modern workplaces need people who are comfortable with an array of software and can use it effectively in their day-to-day work. 

LinkedIn latest research also suggests that some of the fastest-growing skills since the start of the pandemic are tied with “digital”:

  • Coding
  • Digital marketing
  • Data analysis
  • Agile project management 
  • Financial forecasting. 

Some other examples of in-demand transferable technical skills include:

  • Graphic design
  • Social media
  • Office 365 and other office suites
  • CRM software
  • Project management software 
  • Web (HTML, CSS, CMSs) 

How to Identify Great Transferable Skills for Your Resume 

No matter which background you are coming from, high chances are that you already possess some of the key skills employers look for today. You just need to identify them and then strategically incorporate them into your resume.

Whether you are looking for a career change or marketing yourself for a higher-up position, here’s how to present your transferable skills on your resume.

1. Create Your Skill Set Inventory 

You will have a hard time showcasing your skills to a prospective employer if you don’t know what they are or how to define them. So first, make a long list of all your skills, including both technical and soft skills. 

writing down a list

Don’t think in terms of a particular job just yet. Instead, just write down all the ideas. Think about the skills you’ve gained from:

  • Your full-time job
  • Part-time jobs and side-gigs
  • Training, certifications. 
  • Education 
  • Volunteering
  • Leisure projects & hobbies.  

2. Populate Your List with Extra Keywords 

Once you have created your skills list, go to an online job board, and use your skills like keywords in their search engine. Take a step back and observe whether there is any recognizable pattern to your searches. 

If you find that a particular sort of job opportunity keeps on popping up with your chosen skills keywords, then you may find yourself well suited to this role or industry. Browse several job descriptions in your new industry. Look for the specific keywords the employer marks as vital for the role. Hint, they are usually in the Requirements section. Write these down and compare the overlaps with your personal list. 

3. Mirror the Company’s Language 

When browsing job descriptions, you may soon realize that most companies use a similar ‘jargon’ — repetitive buzzwords and industry terms — to describe what they do and which type of person they’d like to see onboard. 

Also, in some cases, employers often use certain terms interchangeably. For example, someone wants to hire a Content Strategist, while another agency looks for an Editorial Lead. While the terms are different, high chances are that they after the same skill sets.

So take note of the industry variations and customize your resume to each company. This way, you’ll whizz past their applicant tracking software, plus position yourself as a good cultural fit.

Wrapping Up 

You already have valuable transferable skills under your belt. That’s a fact. But it takes some reflection and research to identify these, especially if you’d been in the same role for quite a while. Start browsing similar job descriptions, pick up some new lingo for your resume. Understand which new roles have emerged and what qualifications are now in-demand. Invest some time into honing those emerged variations of skills.

This article has been originally published on November 2017 and has been extensively revised and updated on January 2021.


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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