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20 Transferable Skills to Put on Your Resume — and How to Do It


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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on MyPerfectResume.

Whether you are a high school or college student, a recent graduate, a seasoned professional, or looking to make a career change, understanding and developing transferable skills is essential in today’s evolving and competitive job market.

Most companies require specific technical skills to perform the job’s functions, such as medical imaging software for jobs in radiology or point-of-sale systems for retail jobs.

More and more, potential employers are looking for job candidates who are agile and adaptable and have a broader range of skills, including transferable skills such as problem-solving and active listening.

Here, we will examine transferable skills and why they are vital in the modern workplace.

What are transferable skills and why are they important?

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Transferable skills, also known as portable skills, are abilities and traits that can be applied to any job or industry and are, therefore, highly valuable, especially if you don’t have work experience in a particular industry.

They include hard skills like writing and using Microsoft Office and soft skills like teamwork and communication.

Employers look for applicants with transferable skills as they demonstrate adaptability, resilience, and versatility, which are significant in our rapidly changing job market.

Transferable skills allow you to easily pivot between different roles and industries and are essential for career growth and advancement.

Examples of transferable skills for your resume

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The following transferable skills list includes some of the most highly sought-after skills in today’s job market.

  1. Communication: Effectively conveying information, ideas and feedback.
  2. Leadership: Inspiring and guiding others towards a common goal.
  3. Problem-solving: Analyzing issues and finding creative solutions.
  4. Time management: Prioritizing tasks and meeting deadlines efficiently.
  5. Adaptability: Being flexible and open to change in dynamic environments.
  6. Teamwork: Collaborating with others to achieve shared objectives.
  7. Critical thinking: Evaluating information objectively to make informed decisions.
  8. Attention to detail: Ensuring accuracy and precision in work tasks.
  9. Organization: Structuring workflows and resources for optimal productivity.
  10. Customer service: Meeting the needs of clients or customers effectively.
  11. Project management: Planning, executing and overseeing projects from start to finish.
  12. Negotiation: Reaching mutually beneficial agreements through discussion and compromise.
  13. Creativity: Thinking inventively to develop new ideas or solutions.
  14. Data analysis: Interpreting data to draw meaningful insights for decision-making.
  15. Emotional intelligence: Understanding and managing one’s emotions and those of others.
  16. Networking: Building relationships with colleagues, clients, or industry contacts for mutual benefit.
  17. Research skills: Gathering information from various sources for informed decision-making.
  18. Conflict resolution: Resolving disagreements or disputes in a fair and constructive manner.
  19. Presentation skills: Delivering information effectively through verbal or visual means.
  20. Financial literacy: Understanding basic financial concepts relevant to business operations.

How to identify your transferable skills

When passion connects with skills and experience, you're set for your best chance of being effective in a new job.
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Before using your transferable skills in your resume and cover letter, you need to identify what they are. Reflect on past experiences where you excelled in certain tasks or projects and analyze the skills instrumental in your success.

For example, if you have experience working in customer service roles, you may have developed strong communication and problem-solving skills through handling customer inquiries and resolving issues efficiently.

Similarly, if you have held leadership positions in student organizations or volunteer groups, you likely possess skills in team management, decision-making and conflict resolution.

You can also identify your transferable skills by getting feedback from colleagues, supervisors, or mentors who can provide insights into your strengths and areas for improvement. By gathering feedback from others, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the skills that set you apart and are valued in the job market.

Additionally, consider taking online assessments or career quizzes to help you identify your key strengths and transferable skills.

Emphasizing transferable skills in your resume

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Tailor your resume to your target role by reading the description closely and highlighting the skills that match your proficiencies. If you don’t have experience in the field and lack the required technical skills, then focus on your transferable skills.

For example, if you are a human resources manager applying for a position as a business operations manager, you might highlight your leadership, management, verbal and written communication, strategy and research, budgeting, knowledge of business processes, and interpersonal skills.

When updating or writing your resume, display your transferable skills in each section and make them stand out by showing how you have used them.

Here is a breakdown of how to emphasize transferable skills in each section of your resume.

1. Professional summary or objective statement

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Your summary or objective statement is your opportunity to tell hiring managers why you are a viable candidate for the job you want. Introduce yourself and focus on transferable skills that are relevant to the position.

For example, if you are a seasoned home health aide and you are applying for a job as a nursing assistant, you might write a resume objective that stresses your related work experience and relationship-building, teamwork, empathy, and conscientious summarize your job qualifications and goals in a resume like so:

“Dedicated and compassionate home health aide with extensive experience providing personalized care to patients in their homes. Skilled in assisting with daily living activities, medication management and monitoring vital signs.

“Seeking to leverage my strong caregiver background and skills in patient care to excel as a nursing assistant. Proven ability to establish rapport with patients, collaborate with health care teams, and ensure the highest level of comfort and well-being for those under my care.

“I aim to contribute my expertise and passion for helping others support the nursing team at Jefferson Hospital in delivering exceptional patient-centered care.”

2. Skills section

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Create a dedicated skills section on your resume where you list out your transferable skills in bullet points. Include both hard skills (e.g., software proficiency, language fluency) and soft skills (e.g., negotiation, resilience) that apply to the job requirements.

3. Work experience section

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When describing your work experience, use specific examples to demonstrate how you have applied your transferable skills in previous roles.

Highlight achievements that showcase your ability to successfully transfer skills from one job to another, such as leading cross-functional teams or implementing process improvements.

For example, a personal trainer applying for a job as a wellness director might add the following to their work experience section:

  • Increased client retention rate by 20% through personalized training programs and effective communication, improving client satisfaction and loyalty to the fitness center.
  • Led a team of trainers to achieve a 15% increase in overall gym membership sales by implementing targeted marketing strategies and providing exceptional customer service, showcasing leadership and sales skills.
  • Developed and implemented a wellness program that resulted in a 10% decrease in employee absenteeism and a 15% increase in employee morale, demonstrating strong program development and employee engagement skills.

Education section

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In the education section of your resume, mention any coursework, projects, or extracurricular activities that have helped you develop transferable skills relevant to your target job. Emphasize relevant certifications or training programs that have enhanced your skill set and prepared you for diverse roles.

For example:

Education

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

XYZ University, Brattleboro, VT

Expected Graduation: May 2025

Relevant Coursework:

  • Business Communication: Developed strong written and verbal communication skills through presentations, reports and group projects.
  • Marketing Principles: Acquired skills in market research, strategic planning and customer relationship management.
  • Organizational Behavior: Enhanced teamwork, leadership and conflict resolution skills through group discussions and case studies.

This sample resume education section not only highlights the student’s academic achievements but also emphasizes the transferable skills gained through coursework that apply to various professional settings.

5. Optional sections

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Include additional sections on your resume, such as volunteer experience or professional development, to further showcase your transferable skills. Describe how these experiences have helped you develop valuable skills in various contexts and emphasize achievements whenever possible.

For example, a former security guard applying for their first role as a police officer might include a volunteer section like the following:

Community Patrol Volunteer

Local Neighborhood Watch Program

Sioux Falls, SD

September 2023 – January 2024

  • Patrolled designated areas to ensure the safety and security of residents.
  • Assisted in reporting suspicious activities and potential security threats to local law enforcement.
  • Participated in community outreach events to promote crime prevention and safety awareness.
  • Collaborated with fellow volunteers to coordinate neighborhood watch meetings and training sessions.

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