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What is the Best Definition of Transferable Skills?

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Take Your Transferable Skills With You From Job to Job

In essence, you can pack your transferable skills to travel with you. You learn skills from each job you have, and they're important to prospective employers when you're looking for a new job. Transferable skills are those that relate directly to the work you do, including self-management skills you learn along the way. You can even seek a new career that your transferable skills relate to specifically.

What is the Best Definition of Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills are divided into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and gained through hands-on training. Soft skills involve self-management capabilities and interpersonal relations skills you gain while working with others.

Hard skills relate to the actual performance of a specific job and can include such skills as facility with computer programs and the hands-on skills needed for a blue-collar job in an industrial manufacturing plant. Maintaining or repairing computers, being able to use office equipment, knowing how to operate factory equipment, even having basic internet navigating skills all fall within the hard skills category.

Soft skills are those learned on the job or through training that promote good self-management and interpersonal skills. They include skills for interacting with others, delegating work to others, resolving conflicts, delivering motivational speeches and demonstrating a comfort level when dealing with clients, customers and other workers.

Soft management skills involve such things as organization, negotiation, scheduling, hiring new employees and overseeing budgets.

How to Describe Your Transferable Skills in a Job Interview

When trying to fill a position, a prospective employer tries to match your entire set of skills to the requirements of the job advertised. A key step toward getting an interview is making sure you emphasize all of your transferable skills, both hard and soft.

While answering questions in an interview, place emphasis on as many of your transferable skills as possible, illustrating anecdotally how those skills served past employers. For example, if you're applying for an accounting job, mention that you saved a previous employer $10,000 by finding a new supplier offering a product of the same quality at a lower price. Pointing out accomplishments showing expertise that benefited employers can put you at the top of the list of candidates under consideration.

Using Transferable Skills to Find a New Career

You may be wishing to change to a different career that requires fewer hours to enable you to spend more time with your family and children. The good news is that you can transfer skills into an entirely different career.

Make a list of your transferable skills and compare it to job listings to see how many you can use in a new career. When actually applying for a position in a different career area, make certain to include on your resume even those skills that aren't required for a career-entry job—such as leadership or supervisory skills. It can increase your chance of being considered for future promotions.

In a job interview or job application letter for a new career field, make certain to mention your transferable skills and state how you can use them in this new career. State where you acquired the skills, whether it was in college or technical school, through formal or informal training or through volunteer work. This illustrates how hard you worked to gain your skills and what an asset you would be to the company.


Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

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