Job adverts will list what the employer or recruiter is looking for from ‘the ideal candidate’. Hopefully, you will have some if not all of the skills and experience that they require. But, if you lack in some areas, highlighting your transferable skills is the next best option.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are a core set of skills and qualities, also known as soft skills that the vast majority of us have. You don’t need training in these skills to acquire them; they’re developed naturally over the course of your life. They’re also what recruiters like to see in prospective employees.
Transferable skills include, but are not limited to:
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Analytics and research
Transferable skills are not specific to any one industry; they’re more generic than that. These skills will have been picked up through time at school, volunteering with charities, through hobbies or by simply being at home.
Remember, the ability to demonstrate your soft skills should never be underestimated.
How to use transferable skills to your advantage (when you haven’t got sufficient industry experience)
If you’re a graduate trying to break into a particular industry, the chances of you having the full spectrum of desirable skills and competencies that a recruiter is looking for is quite slim.
It’s worth bearing in mind here that a lack of direct experience is by no means a barrier to a new job.
Being able to draw on your transferable skills to highlight the other qualities that you have is invaluable.
The best way to impress potential employers is to recognise that you have these skills and demonstrate how you have applied them previously, in a real-life scenario. Employers want to establish what strategic value you would add to their organisation, should you be hired to work for them. Therefore, evidence is a must.
The job description of the role you’re applying for will list the key skills that the ideal candidate must have. Highlight every skill you have in your repertoire, and think of relevant examples that demonstrate the skills and the positive, tangible impact that it had.
Here are a few brief examples to help you out:
- Teamwork: group presentations and projects
- Communication: speaking in seminars, lectures and workshops and writing essays
- Time management: meeting multiple deadlines
- Organisation: meeting multiple deadlines that were extremely close together
If you can’t directly match your skills to the job spec, think what transferable skills come close to those that the recruiter is looking for.
Don’t simply slap all the skills you think you have on your CV and hope the recruiter will sift through them. If you’re going to do this, don’t bother applying. It only demonstrates that you haven’t shown the correct level of care and concern for the job application.
Remember, always show what value you added; never just state what you did.
Don’t say: “Is a great team player”.
Say: “Worked with my team to beat competing groups in X competition, by encouraging a positive and open group atmosphere that supported every member”.
Finally, if you’re stuck for skills to list, ensure that your CV is spell-checked thoroughly and that the grammar is immaculate. Nothing says ‘attention to detail’ quite like a well-polished CV.