Skip to Main Content

12 Examples of Transferable Skills

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

Transferable skills can be soft skills, like collaboration or problem-solving, or hard skills, like using Excel or video editing software. They are portable skills you can transfer from one position to another, regardless of how different they may seem on the surface.

Even if you are applying for your first job, you’ve probably developed some transferable skills in school or extracurricular activities. This article will help you identify your transferable skills so you can highlight them on your resume and in your cover letters.

Why Do Transferable Skills Matter?

Transferable skills are lifelong skills that make you a better employee and team member in a wide variety of positions. Often, they are skills you can continue to hone and refine over time and with practice.

Employers value transferable skills because they add to a worker’s overall contribution. Employees with transferable skills tend to be more well-rounded and able to contribute value to the company and team. By identifying yours, you can help your resume stand out.

Examples of Transferable Skills

Here is a list of 12 common transferable skills that employers look for in potential candidates.

1. Communication

Most positions benefit from strong communication skills. Communication includes written and verbal communication, as well as active listening and body language.

People with strong communication skills help move projects forward. They can dispel misunderstandings and ask questions that uncover the root of any confusion.

Communication skills help you build rapport, be understood, and confirm you understand others through active listening. Many employers value communications skills, even for positions that aren’t customer-facing and don’t involve teamwork.

2. Dependability

Whether you work remotely or in the office, dependability means you reliably meet deadlines, show up to complete your work, and take care of your responsibilities. Dependability includes timeliness, organization, and honesty.

3. Initiative

Being self-motivated and someone who takes the initiative is valuable in positions where you have a degree of freedom about when and how you complete projects. In those situations, employers value employees who can make good decisions on their own, contribute valuable ideas, and who reliably get things done without constant supervision.

4. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to look at something like a question, product, or procedure from a variety of different angles. Instead of accepting things as they are, someone who uses critical thinking will look for ways to increase efficiency, test assumptions, and improve ideas.

5. Problem-Solving

While critical thinking is the process of testing assumptions and noticing opportunities for improvement, problem-solving is the skill of coming up with creative solutions to challenges or questions.

A skilled problem solver looks past the surface of the problem into its underlying causes. From there, they look at different ways to solve the problem.

Both problem solvers and critical thinkers can seem way outside the box to some people, but that’s because they look beyond what is there right now and into what is possible. Creative thinking is another common term that is like problem-solving.

6. Attention to Detail

Many jobs, from computer programming to stocking shelves, benefit from an employee who pays attention to the details. Employers appreciate work that is consistently clean, organized, accurate, and mistake-free. A person with good attention to detail may catch discrepancies that others overlook.

7. Time Management

Time management skills include meeting deadlines but also include efficiency and productivity. Someone skilled in time management will know how to prioritize tasks and when to delegate time to each project so they use their work time effectively.

8. Adaptability

A person who demonstrates adaptability is comfortable entering new environments and willing to step up to new challenges. An adaptable person can adjust to change—for example, walking into work expecting to do one thing but finding out they are doing something totally new instead.

Adaptability tends to be one of the skills employers highly value, especially post-COVID. Someone comfortable adjusting to changes can pivot their focus quickly when necessary.

9. Relationship Building

Relationship building is the ability to create connections with people. It is a great skill for salespeople, leaders, or anyone dealing with customers and clients. People skilled at relationship building tend to be very good at active listening and communication. They seem genuinely interested in people and often remember important details about the people they know.

10. Teamwork or Collaboration

Peter Drucker is the one who first said, “There is no ‘I’ in the word ‘team.’” The essence of teamwork and collaboration is to put the work above your personal interests. Rather than always competing to appear on top, successful teamwork includes being supportive and allowing others to shine.

Collaboration is a meeting of the minds that is essential to successful teamwork. Instead of only being able to do things their way, a good collaborator will share ideas with other people to produce a project that is better than any single person could do on their own.

At the same time, being part of a team doesn’t mean letting yourself be drowned out. It’s the balance of give and take that produces the best results.

11. Leadership

A leader may not be a manager. Leadership is more focused on motivating and directing people. A skilled leader can communicate their vision. They have strong relationship-building skills and can organize teams and help direct them.

Leadership skills include team building, delegation, communication, conflict resolution, and setting goals. If you have one or more of those skills, you can list them separately on your resume and cover letter or demonstrate how you use them with examples.

12. Management

Management is a form of leadership with specific skills in overseeing and orchestrating people, processes, schedules, or plans. You may have skills managing people, projects, schedules, or a combination of all three.

A skilled manager sees the big picture and uses that understanding to help optimize how the business or project functions.

What Are Your Transferable Skills?

Now that you have a sense of the types of skills that are portable, think about each job you’ve had and make a list of the transferable skills you used in that position. If you are applying for your first job, think of the extracurricular activities you’ve done, leadership positions you’ve held, internships, or other activities, and brainstorm your transferable skills from each experience.

Remember to include a brief supporting example or explanation with each skill. Once your list is complete, you are ready to make your resume and cover letters shine with your valuable transferable skills.

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

The information in our press releases, blogs, articles, testimonials, videos and presentations should be considered accurate only as of the date thereof. We disclaim any obligation to supplement or update the information in this type of content, and any links or references therein to third party articles or other third party content does not constitute our endorsement of that third party.

Read Related Articles