What Are Transferable Skills and How Can I Discover Mine?

Transferable skills are abilities and talents that are relevant and helpful across different areas of life: socially, professionally, and at school.

11 Feb 2024
Ewald Schäfer
Reading time
≈4 minutes
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Amid the flux, the significance of transferable skills stands unwavering. These skills, garnered from every facet of your life—be it professional roles, educational courses, personal projects, parenting, leisure activities, or sports—are versatile tools that can be applied to your future career endeavors. This detailed exploration will introduce the concept of transferable skills, underscore their pivotal role, and guide you on a journey to uncover and harness these assets to elevate your professional path.

Defining Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are abilities and talents that are relevant and helpful across different areas of life: socially, professionally, and at school. They are ‘portable skills’. People usually think about them in the context of changing jobs or careers, but they are applicable to many situations.

The Importance of Transferable Skills

In a rapidly changing job market, transferable skills are a key component of career resilience. They enable you to pivot easily into new roles, adapt to new industries, and convey your value to potential employers, even if you lack direct experience in a specific job role.

Types of Transferable Skills

Transferable skills can be broadly categorized into three groups: soft skills, hard skills, and digital skills.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are interpersonal skills that determine how well you can work or interact with others. These include communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability. Regardless of the job or industry, soft skills are universally sought after by employers.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are learned abilities acquired and enhanced through practice, repetition, and education. While often thought of as industry-specific, many hard skills such as writing, mathematical ability, or language proficiency are valuable in a variety of sectors.

Digital Skills

In the digital age, skills related to information technology, such as proficiency in specific software, coding languages, or digital marketing, have become increasingly transferable across job roles and industries.

Discovering Your Transferable Skills

Identifying your transferable skills is a crucial step in navigating your career path, especially if you are considering a job change or career transition.

Reflect on Your Experiences

Look back on your professional experiences, including full-time jobs, part-time work, internships, volunteering, and even your personal projects or hobbies. What skills did you develop in these roles that can apply to a wide range of other jobs?

Analyze Job Descriptions

Review job descriptions in your desired field and note the skills that frequently appear. Compare these with your own skill set to identify which of your skills are transferable.

Seek Feedback

Sometimes, others can offer valuable insights into our strengths. Ask colleagues, supervisors, or mentors for feedback on your skill set. They might highlight transferable skills you hadn’t considered.

Use Skill Assessment Tools

There are numerous online tools and quizzes designed to help you identify your skills. These can be useful in pinpointing both your strong areas and the skills you might need to develop further.

Examples of Transferable Skills

To give you an idea of how broad transferable skills can be, here are some examples:

  • Communication – Expressing ideas clearly, listening actively, and negotiating conflicts.
  • Leadership – Inspiring and motivating others, delegating tasks, and making decisions.
  • Analytical Thinking – Solving problems creatively, making decisions based on data, and logical reasoning.
  • Teamwork – Collaborating with others, being empathetic, and building relationships.
  • Time Management – Prioritizing tasks, managing projects efficiently, and meeting deadlines.

Leveraging Your Transferable Skills

Once you’ve identified your transferable skills, the next step is to communicate them effectively to potential employers.

Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

Highlight your transferable skills in your resume and cover letter. Use specific examples from your past experiences to demonstrate how these skills have contributed to your success.

Prepare for Interviews

Be ready to discuss your transferable skills in job interviews. Prepare stories that illustrate how you’ve applied these skills in various situations to achieve positive outcomes.

Continue to Develop Your Skills

Transferable skills can always be developed further. Seek out opportunities for professional development, whether through formal education, online courses, or self-directed learning.


In a world where career paths are no longer linear and change is the only constant, understanding and leveraging your transferable skills can be your greatest asset. By identifying the skills you already possess and effectively communicating their value to employers, you can navigate the job market with confidence, adapt to new challenges, and pave the way for a fulfilling and resilient career.

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