In today’s workplace, employees are no longer restricted by their roles and departments. With the rise of start-up businesses and remote working opportunities, people wear many hats to adjust to new and changing situations. In fact, employers actively seek out individuals who can thrive in such situations and juggle multiple responsibilities effectively. This level of holistic employee development is making transferable skills more important than ever.
Transferable skills have become the latest buzzword; they’re critical to your career. Whether you’re fresh out of college or looking for a change in your career, having these skills is a game-changer. Let’s explore the importance of transferable skills in professional life.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Every job requires a combination of skills—most times a blend of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are easy to quantify and encompass the technical competencies of an individual, which they learn over time. On the other hand, soft skills are not so easy to quantify but they’re instrumental for professional development. A combination of hard and soft skills that are relevant and helpful across different fields are transferable skills.
In other words, transferable skills, also known as portable skills, are abilities that are useful in various types of jobs, roles and industries. It’s called so because you can transfer these skills from one job to another. Different examples of transferable skills indicate that they aren’t industry-specific. You can pick up these skills in any employment setting and seamlessly apply or transfer them to your next job.
Richard N. Bolles, a career expert, pioneered the meaning of transferable skills. In his bestseller, What Color Is Your Parachute? Bolles suggests that we possess skills we take from one job to another. The list of transferable skills can be categorized under:
People (communication, coaching, negotiation)
Data (research, data collection, analysis)
Things (assembling, repairing, operations)
These are skills you pick up from every experience. They’re helpful in successful career change and long-term professional development.
Examples Of Transferable Skills
Employers often seek out candidates with strong transferable skills because of the flexibility they bring to their work. They want to see if you’re able to tailor and apply your skills to the current role and organization. Often, a lack of industry-specific experience stops us from applying for a particular job. However, transferable skills indicate that you have the potential to perform well. Here’s a list of transferable skills that are critical to any role or industry:
Strong communication skills are foundational to any workplace setting. Not only do you build lasting interpersonal connections and relationships, but you can also convince someone of your ideas and viewpoints. It helps you ask questions, navigate arguments in a constructive manner and read body language, among other benefits. Transferable communication skills include:
Giving and receiving feedback
In addition to communication, empathy helps you strengthen workplace relationships. The ability to put yourself in others’ shoes and look at the world from their perspective is a superpower. You understand their needs and expectations, sometimes even things that are unsaid. It helps you keep an open mind and be accepting of multiple perspectives. Some examples of transferable empathy skills are:
Transferable problem-solving skills help you get to the root cause of a problem in addition to identifying that there’s a problem in the first place. Employers value this skill highly because it helps them address bottlenecks and inefficiencies in operations and other procedures. Once you identify the problem and its underlying cause, it prompts you to find relevant solutions. Problem-solving skills include:
Transferable dependability skills are what make you a trusted employee. Every organization wants its members to be reliable and accountable for their actions. It shows that they’re not only trustworthy but also courageous. This helps businesses trust them to manage relationships, projects and overall objectives. Some examples of dependability skills include:
Teams are the building blocks of any organization. Effective teamwork skills help employees work towards common organizational objectives. Moreover, it allows them to collaborate, brainstorm new ideas and pursue projects with greater enthusiasm. Trust lies at the core of teamwork and strong empathy and communication skills help cement relationships. Some common transferable teamwork skills are:
Effective leadership skills are highly valued across industries. Here, leadership doesn’t necessarily mean having an upper management role; instead, it refers to leading yourself and others. It encompasses a wide range of qualities—from taking initiative to holding yourself accountable. Other transferable leadership skills include:
Also known as flexibility, adaptability skills help you navigate changes successfully. Fast-paced business environments are dynamic, which means that change is inevitable. These skills help you continue working on your project and toward your goals even when there’s a change in teams, deadlines, management or products. Employers value people who are flexible, can maintain a positive attitude and get things done. Some examples are listed below:
In a world driven by digitization and technological innovations, it’s crucial that we learn to navigate existing and upcoming technology. Computer skills and familiarity with new tools and software are highly valuable in an increasingly technological workplace. Some examples of such skills are:
Web (HTML, SEO, CMS)
Office suites (MS Office, G-Suites)
This list of transferable skills not only applies to our careers but also to our personal lives. They’re helpful and relevant across various areas, including school, college and social settings.
The Importance Of Transferable Skills
Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional, you need transferable skills to thrive in the job market. Recent graduates often don’t possess the necessary experience suitable for the job. However, demonstrating a set of universal skills can make a big difference to your application. On the other hand, people looking for a career change can emphasize the skills that are applicable to the new career choice. However, it’s tricky to figure out what skills are most desirable.
Here’s how you can shortlist transferable skills and tailor them to the job you’re applying for:
Do Your Homework
The first step is to research the type of skills employers value in current times. There are several ways to go about it:
A generic internet search can direct you toward occupational information. Use specific keywords to search about the particular industry or role.
Study the job advertisement or posting and understand the expectations from the role. Often, there is a section about the skills that the organization desires in a candidate.
Speak with people in the target field. It can be past coworkers or friends of friends who can help you figure out which skills are important.
Do A Self-Analysis
Once you have identified the skills employers want from potential employees, identify the skills you possess. A skills assessment test is useful but you can do a simple self-analysis as well. Make a list of skills you have and the skills required for the new job. When you take inventory, you’ll gain clarity on the number of skills that are relevant to your new career path.
Add It To Your Resume
Stating your transferable skills for resume is the most important step in the process. Remember to place them in such a way that it grabs the reader’s attention immediately. It’s also useful to go beyond simply listing these skills. For example, there are various ways to outline your achievements. For example, “I use the SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely—approach to meet my project deadlines”.
Make sure to put your best foot forward as transferable skills are necessary for successful employment.
Take Ownership With Harappa
As we discussed, an important step in understanding your skill requirement is to analyze your true potential. Harappa’s Leading Self course will help you identify the best version of yourself and recognize areas of improvement. Take ownership of your learning journey with powerful frameworks such as The Ladder of Learning, Performance Equation and The Iceberg Model. Step outside your comfort zone with Harappa!
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Factors Influencing Self-Esteem, Leadership Qualities That Make A Good Leader, What Are Life Skills, Key Employability Skills In Today's World and Guide to Personal SWOT Analysis to take charge of your personal and professional growth.
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