Transferable Skills - What Are They & Why Do You Need To Know Yours?
Technically speaking, transferable skills (also known as 'portable' skills) are qualities that can be transferred from one job to another. They're those skills you possess that are not specific to a particular job or industry, rather they're applicable to many.
As CV writers, we've broken this down a step further. Why? Well in our opinion, all soft skills are transferable, but not all hard skills are. (Soft skills being your personality-based strengths - i.e. resilience, positivity, or a methodical approach to managing tasks. Hard skills being 'learned' skills; things you can study in a formal education capacity such as engineering, graphic design, financial analysis or the sorts of skills you need to spend a lot of time honing and perfecting such as leadership, relationship management, and business development).
We’ll give you an example. If you're a nurse, your technical nursing skills will be very laser-focused and specific to your job in a clinical setting, (i.e. administering medicines, drawing blood, recording patient vitals) therefore they will only be able to be used in such settings and would not be very relevant if you wanted to become an Account Manager for a retail chain. However, thankfully no job is completely one-dimensional, so you will still have a range of transferable skills you can draw on if you did decide to switch industries one day. What sort of skills do we mean? Well, continuing with nursing as an example; people skills for one thing! Good nurses should have an excellent bedside manner and fantastic people skills, which means they could rework their CV to focus on their hard transferable skills such as relationship management/building, leadership, and communication. All skills which they can give credence to by including achievements that serve to highlight their professional strengths in action, and ultimately, skills which they can take to a broader range of jobs.
To help you out, we've come up with a general list of transferable and non-transferable hard skills. (Please keep in mind that these are absolutely not exhaustive lists and things are not always black and white. The below lists are merely guides to help you understand which skills are more transferable than others).
Once you’ve read over them, you should have a pretty good idea of where your own set of expertise fits, so grab a pen and paper and come up with between 5-10 hard skills that align with your professional experience. Once you’ve got all your hard skills laid out, you can then look at each one and work out which ones could be viewed as ‘transferable’.
Non-transferable hard skills include more skill/industry-specific or technical jobs such as:
Engineering (Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Automotive)
Trades (Plumbing, Building, Electrical, Hairdressing, Floristry, Plastering/Painting, Mechanic, Cabinet Makers)
Art and Design (Graphic, Architecture, Interior, Photography, Makeup Artistry, Instructional, Web, Fashion, Editorial, Fine Arts, Art Direction)
Media (News Reader, Reporter, Actor, Director, Music, Theatre)
Accounting/Finance (Accountant, Bookkeeper, CFO, AP/AR, Debt Collection, Financial Planning/Analysis, Banking)
Technical Medical/Scientific (Specialists, Doctors, Nurses, Marine Biologists, Biochemists, etc. )
IT (Programming, Developers, Analysts)
Sportsperson (Professional sports players/olympians)
Transferable hard skills are broad-use, multi-functional expertise that can be applied in a range of settings. These include -
NOTE: You’ll notice that many of these bullets might make up facets of the non-transferable bullets above (i.e. While a Pilots core technical plane flying skills are not transferable to another role, their leadership and communication skills are).
Health and Safety
Business Growth and Development
General Computer/Technology Savvy
Research and Analysis
Supply Chain/Service Delivery
Customer Service (Phone, email and/or face-to-face)
It pays to know what your full range of hard skills are, and subsequently, which of them are transferable, because these golden skills are VERY helpful when you decide to make a move in your career (we're talking down and sideways too, not just up!)
Once you know what your transferable skills are, you can draw on them to help you gain a promotion, switch industries completely, or even secure a job that might be considered beneath your current expertise level - i.e. A Senior Finance Manager wanting to change gears and work as a Retail Assistant. (Yes, this scenario happens all the time for a host of different reasons, so it is super helpful to know how to sell yourself using your transferable skills, otherwise it can be hard to be taken seriously and successfully secure a position with less pay/responsibility/stress!)
If you’re a bit stuck with identifying and subsequently giving context to your transferable skills, please reach out as we’d be happy to help you come up with fresh ways to present yourself as a more versatile and marketable candidate.