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The importance of Transferable Skills

The importance of Transferable Skills

transferable skills

A lot of my clients ask me “what are transferable skills?” And “have I got any transferable skills?”

Transferable skills seem to be a blind spot. We don’t always recognise them in ourselves and so we rarely shout about them or mention them to potential employers.

Let’s look at how we can gain some perspective on these hidden skills and ourselves…

The world of work is changing, and no longer is a job for life. The truth is that as the economic landscape shifts and changes faster than ever, it’s becoming increasingly important to diversify. In the past, it’s been good enough to just master one skill, one profession, and do that one thing really well. Now, change is the norm and so transferable skills are key to staying relevant and being able to change roles, jobs or even careers as and when the time comes. We need to learn to operate with resilience.

In fact, an interesting article by Marcus Scott highlighted the findings of a recent interim report for the Financial Services Skills Taskforce:

“The report found that the technical skills needed by financial services firms are evolving faster than roles can be currently be filled – and the pace of change is likely to increase.”

Marcus Scott, How we fill the jobs of the future

What are Transferable Skills?

Simply defined, transferable skills are the ones that you will have collected in your skills tool belt over the years. They make you resilient to change! You can take them with you and apply these skills to any role, in any industry. You don’t need years of very specific experience, expensive training courses or certifications to acquire them, they simply come with time. And guess what? Everyone has them! Yes, everyone!

So often these transferable skills are called ‘soft skills’. But there is nothing soft about these talents… they are essential, invaluable qualities that candidates need to have in order to compete these days and keep up with industry changes and advances in technology. Transferable skills are what allows you to be resilient to change, and embrace and adapt to new roles, new requirements and new demands.

What Transferable Skills do you have hidden away in your tool belt?

Think about the things that you do well within your current or past roles. Then think about the basic human skills that almost all employers will be looking for, regardless of the role. Perhaps you enjoy talking to a colleague about a problem that has arisen or communicating about something that has happened. Maybe you pride yourself on being a very organised person, good at time keeping and meeting deadlines. Or maybe team work is your thing and you thrive when you have other people to bounce ideas off and work with.

The list is endless, but here are a few transferable skills that you might possess:

CommunicationCreativityCritical thinking
Decision makingDelegationDriving innovation / change
Execution / delivery FlexibilityGoal orientation
InfluencingInformation gathering Leadership
Mentoring OrganisationPersistence
Problem solvingRelationship buildingQuantitative analysis
Strategic thinkingTeam workingTime management

Now work out which of these skills you do well, or enjoy doing. Once you’ve identified which transferable skills you have hidden in your tool belt, write them all down. It’s easy to forget about their existence hidden away in there!

Think of examples…

The next step is to think about the ways in which you have demonstrated those transferable skills in the past. There’s no value in having hollow words on your CV, you need to have supporting evidence! If you’ve identified yourself as a problem solver, then think of an occasion on which you had to find a solution to a dilemma, and think back to how you came to that solution. Potential employers are likely to question the skills you list on your CV, so ensure you have something to back them up with.

How could you use those transferable skills in different roles?

Now think about the ways in which these transferable skills could be applied to your dream job. This will help you to identify yourself as a strong candidate. Put your list of transferable skills somewhere that you will see it every single day. Keep reminding yourself that you’re a valuable addition to any team! If you don’t believe it, then why should anyone else…

Now what?

Now that you have identified your transferable skills, make sure you’re showing them off. Show employers that you can operate with resilience, and face any challenges and changes that come your way. When applying for jobs, make sure you are demonstrating how you use your transferable skills on your CV, on your LinkedIn profile and during interviews. If you’re not sure how – get in touch! We can guide you to articulate these clearly and make sure that any potential employers can see your full potential and the value you will add.

“I really enjoyed the fact that Katherine was able to read through me, identify my transferable skills and put words to things I’m good at. It allowed me to have a better understanding of my skills but also identify the things I wanted to get from a job. It also helped me not to sound like “please give me a job… anything will do”. The sessions and exchanges with Katherine gave me a lot of confidence and the recruiters have probably seen that. My CV has never looked so accurate!”

Anthony Baltz, Cambridge