10 Transferable Skills Most Companies Want

transferable skills

Transferable skills are not a new concept. About 200 years ago, before the industrial age, everyone did everything they could. A farmer, for example, also knew how to build houses and fight wars. In other words, a typical farmer in the 1800s had diverse transferable skills.

Today, as most of us live in a free market society, we also face immense specialization. While specialization has increased productivity, we often find ourselves in water-tight compartments with little or no transferable skills. However, contrary to popular conceptions, our society honors people with diverse skills.

In this article, let’s look at ten transferable skills that most companies want. We’ll explore examples and how you can add skills to your resume/ cover letter.

What Are Transferable Skills?

Skills that let you move across occupations are known as transferable skills. It could be soft skills like communication, compassion, and teamwork, or technical skills like writing, designing, and managing. It prevents you from getting stuck with one kind of profession for the rest of your life.

10 Transferable Skills Most Companies Want

1.    Decision Making

Most companies give a level of autonomy to their employees to keep things decentralized for better work output. However, independence comes with a sense of responsibility. You’d most often be required to make decisions on the spot without consulting your manager or teammates.

If you’re a competent decision-maker, you’ll be able to handle all challenges. For example, a customer service executive must provide real-time solutions to clients. They hold a transferable skill (decision making) that enables them to look for jobs in other fields, like a store manager.

Transferable Decision Making skills include:

  • Thinking out of the box
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem solving
  • Good listening skills

2.    Communication Skills

Irrespective of the job, communication skills help you land the job in the first place. If you’re a salesperson, you’d need excellent communication skills to sell your product. The skill set you learned during your time as a salesperson can help you get a job as a human resources manager or a virtual assistant.

Most collaboration-oriented jobs require good communication skills. If you have a good idea, you must be persuasive to materialize it. On the other hand, if someone else has a good idea, you’ll need to listen to what they’re trying to say. A good communicator is also a good listener.

Good communication skills are not only required in jobs that involve a lot of speaking. They are important even in jobs that require minimal talking. For example, if a data entry operator needs their issues resolved, they need to have good communication skills to accurately talk about their problems. Here’s another example: If a developer needs to explain an idea to a person with a non-tech background, they need to have excellent communication skills. So the point is, transferable skills like communication are fundamental across career paths.

Transferable Communication Skills Include:

  • Good listening skills
  • Mutual respect to all
  • Ability to explain complex topics in simple words
  • Good writing skills

3.    Creativity

Creativity is not restricted to creative jobs like writing and designing. Even technical jobs like software development, bookkeeping, and others require creativity. Creativity is an excellent skill for problem-solving, regardless of the position. It’s all about thinking out of the box or uniquely approaching your task.

Remember that there is no strict partition between creative jobs and technical jobs. Most jobs have overlaps and require both.

Transferable Creativity Skills Include:

  • Decision making
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving

4.    Technology Literacy

Today all jobs require you to have a level of technology literacy. The idea of doctors conducting remote surgeries using a VR headset from the comfort of their homes is no more a foreign concept. Dr. Justin Barad- a surgeon and founder of Osso VR, has introduced VR headsets in surgical training. He says that technology helps in easy knowledge transfer from any remote place.

Similarly, a content writer needs to have a working knowledge of content management systems like WordPress and Prismic. Technology is for everybody. People across all professions need to make the best use of it for the best results.

Transferable Skills That Come With Technology Literacy:

  • Problem Solving
  • Work Efficiency
  • Adaptability with new technologies
  • Creativity while using technology

5.    Problem Solving

Most jobs exist to find solutions or are part of a solution. Problem-solving at an individual level is essential to maintain autonomy at all company levels. If you’re a person who likes to think out of the box and can come up with solutions instantly, you’re a problem solver.

Problem-solving is vital across the board, from HR managers to virtual assistants.

Transferable Problem Solving Skills Include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Good communication skills
  • Creativity

6.    Teamwork

“Teamwork makes dreams work.” No profession works in isolation.

There are numerous collaborations, communication, and understanding between all stakeholders. Every remote and non-remote job requires teamwork to get things done. For example, writing a simple article on a blog requires collaboration between a content writer, an SEO specialist, and a social media manager.

You can make teams work with a collaborative mindset and good communication skills.

Transferable Skills That Come With Teamwork Include:

  • Empathy
  • Mutual respect
  • Adaptability
  • Good communication skills
  • Listening skills

7.    Adaptability

We live in a dynamic world. With ever-changing technology and work culture, we should be adaptable. “Agile” is a buzzword today everywhere. Across all professions, you’re required to adapt, evolve and respond to changes.

People who adapted to the remote work environment during COVID could significantly perform better than their peers who didn’t.

Transferable skills that come with adaptability:

  • Versatility
  • Adapting to new technical skills- tech literacy
  • Listening skills

8.    Empathy

All workplaces need empathy. But that’s not it. Compassion towards your clients or customers is crucial if you’re looking to switch to a service-oriented job.

If you’re an architect, empathy helps put yourself in the user’s shoes and allows you to create buildings and public spaces accessible to everyone. Similarly, a writer needs to be empathic towards her reader to keep her books/ articles comprehensible.

All in all, it’s best for people in all professions to be empathetic to everyone.

Transferable Skills That Come With Empathy:

  • Caring
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills

9.    Organization

Do you like your emails and messages decluttered? Are you one of those people who like organizing their tables before finishing work? Chances are you’re efficient in your position as well. Organization doesn’t mean OCD. It just means clarity.

People often feel that organization as a trait exists only with people in leadership positions. The truth, however, is that organized people exist everywhere. Being organized, you can land any job of your choice.

Transferable Organization Skills Include:

  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail

10. Critical Thinking

Every job requires a certain level of autonomy. In most places, you’d have the autonomy to figure out the path to reach a certain goal. In such cases you’d have to think out of the box to efficiently do the same job. In other words, critical thinking helps you work smart.

Apart from this, if you’re able to foresee the possible results of your decisions, you’ll be able to make better decisions. This is where critical thinking comes in.

Transferable Critical Thinking Skills Include:

  • Decision making
  • Smart work
  • Teamwork
  • Organization

So, those were ten transferable skills that most companies want. Pretty straightforward, right?

The trick, however, is to show them you have it. What better way to do it than through a cover letter and resume?

Here’s how you can include your skill in your cover letter.

How To Include Your Skill In Your Cover Letter?

When you write your cover letter, you’ll likely consider many of your skills like communication, adaptability, empathy, and others as mundane. Yes, they sound mundane if you jot them down one after another in your cover letter. But what if you give a background story about each skill? The recruiter will probably be interested in you.

For example, if you are an HR manager who wants to become a Recruiter, you can highlight similar skills between the two professions. Tell them how you managed complex tasks using your communication skills and how well you can understand human behavior.

Here is a more technical example. If you’re an architect who wants to switch to graphic design, you can talk about your experience working with industry-standard design software as an architect. It will tell your recruiter about your technology literacy and help you land that job more efficiently.

Some professions can have nothing in common with your previous job. For example, I was a dentist before I became a content writer. For the most part, being a dentist was diametrically opposite from what I do now. My ability to write and the skills that I honed during my college days helped me build a portfolio for my new career path.

Transferable skills are needed today more than ever before. New technologies mean new opportunities. They’re an absolute necessity if you want to switch careers.

FAQs About Transferable Skills

  1. Why are transferable skills essential?

Transferable skills are generalist skills that enable you to land a diverse range of jobs. It opens up opportunities and helps you explore territories other than yours.

     2. Why should I update and expand my transferable skills?

Life and the world, as we know it, are not static. Change is the only constant. Updating and expansion of your skill set are vital. As we said, a collection of transferable skills expands your horizon.

     3. How can I update my skill set?

You can do it regularly by working on your skills on your own- through observation. Or you can sign up for various classes online. Edtech platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, and others have made classes within reach. There are many classes for seemingly mundane skills like communication, writing, and others.

    4. What is the most important transferable skill?

Any transferable skill which can be used in many different situations is a good transferable skill. For example, a good communication skill comes handy in all situations.

It’s Never Too Late

It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Do you want to make a career change at 30? Or do you want to improve your work output in your current one? Whatever it may be, you can never be too old to learn a new skill.

Transferable skills help you expand your worldview.


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