The Most Important Transferable Skills (With Examples)

By Sky Ariella
Aug. 17, 2022

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Throughout the years of your academics, internships, and jobs you’ve picked up lots of valuable skills and habits that can be useful across many different kinds of jobs. These skills and abilities are called transferable skills.

By definition, transferable skills are not designated to a specific field or occupation, making them soft skills. They can be helpful for graduates fresh from college trying to land their first job, and individuals looking to make a drastic career change.

Key Takeaways:

  • Transferable skills are skills that can be used in any workplace regardless of the profession.

  • Having a diverse set of transferable skills makes you more valuable as an employee.

  • Transferable skills include communication, empathy, management, analytical thinking, and reliability.

  • Improve your transferable skills by first identifying your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Transferable skills can be shown when answering behavioral questions during the job interview.

The Most Important Transferable Skills (With Examples)

What Are Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills are the qualities you take with you to a new position that will make you a more effective employee.

Transferable skills can be:

  • Related to work-style

  • Personality traits

  • Social skills

  • Professional habits

Including transferable skills makes your resume stand out, especially for entry-level candidates and career changers. If there’s something that made you a stronger student or employee in your previous position, there’s the possibility it can be transferable to a new job.

Why Are Transferable Skills Important?

Transferable skills will follow you wherever you go, personally or professionally. Having a well-rounded skill set that can be applied to several circumstances makes you a more valuable individual to have around in a greater number of situations.

Naturally, this means those with more impressive and widely applicable transferable skills will have more opportunities in their careers. While other candidates might have a tough time breaking into a new industry, field, or role, those with a hefty set of transferable skills will have more control over their professional destiny.

Types of Transferable Skills

There are many types of transferable skills, as you can probably imagine from the broad definition of it. Do some serious reflection about what relevant transferable qualities you can bring from previous experiences that will attract recruiter attention and be helpful in your new position.

  1. General skills. There are certain transferable qualities that are almost required as the standard for any profession. These can be dubbed as general skills. They’re usually skills and mindfulness you learned as a student, or in any prior job.

    General skills include:

    • Following instruction

    • Listening and communication

    • Arriving to work on time

    • Assessing your own performance

    • Basic writing skills

    • Cooperating in a team scenario

    • Meeting deadlines

    Deficiencies in general skills can negatively affect your work performance and evaluations. Try to master these areas to excel in your work in any position.

  2. Interpersonal skills. The ability to successfully interact, manage, and work with other people is a powerful asset. Interpersonal skills are transferable across many different vocations and can be an extremely important factor in the quality of work your team produces.

    People skills can make you a more likable, effective employee. They can be especially helpful in rounding out applicant profiles for recent graduates with little professional experience. Consider which interpersonal skills you may have developed in classrooms or internships.

    Examples of interpersonal skills include:

    • Strong communication

    • Motivating co-workers

    • Empathy

    • Being a team-player

    • Active listening

    • Customer service

    • Conflict management and resolution

    • Cooperating and coordinating with others

    • Respectfulness

    • Open-Mindedness

    • Confidence

    • Giving and receiving constructive criticism

  3. Management skills. Leadership skills transfer very well to any new position. Having qualities for strong management doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a CEO with years of experience.

  4. Leadership could be:

    • Being voted your class president

    • Captain of a sports team

    • Managing responsibilities at a part-time job

    • Founding a college newspaper

    No matter how much professional experience you have, taking initiative and leading teams in any capacity can be applicable to a new job.

    Management skills in a former job for applicants who are making a career change can greatly improve your resume. Even if the field may seem unrelated, taking on a leadership role in any occupation speaks to your employability and reliability.

    Example of management skills include:

    • Understanding and following a budget

    • Supplying resources

    • Giving employees constructive criticism

    • Acknowledging employees for their accomplishments

    • Problem-solving

    • Maintaining schedules

    • Training new hires

    • Establishing rapport

    • Adaptability

  5. Clerical skills. Clerical skills involve the day-to-day tasks that allow a business to run smoothly. These kinds of transferable skills improve productivity, and listing them can make your resume more competitive.

    Clerical skills will most often be required in an office setting, however, they can be helpful across many different industries.

    Examples of clerical skills include:

    • Basic computer skills

    • Analytical thinking

    • Diligence

    • Record keeping

    • Verbal and written clarity

    • Typing speed

    • Utilizing digital calendars

    • Spreadsheets

    • Organization

    • Greeting clients

    • Managing emails

  6. Research skills. Being able to conduct research that results in productive conclusions and problem-solving is a transferable skill. It can be equally beneficial to entry-level and career change applicants. You may have gained strong research skills in your four years at college.

    Similarly, you could’ve spent a lot of time at your previous job perfecting effective research techniques. Make note of these transferable skills to show a hiring manager that you’re prepared to do the work in figuring out the best solutions.

    Research skills include:

    • Setting objectives

    • Prioritization

    • Data analysis

    • Time-management

    • Taking notes

    • Fact-checking through reputable resources

    • Organizing information

    • Communicating findings

  7. Technical skills. Technical skills are usually hard skills, which may make their placement on a list of transferable qualities confusing. While computer and technical skills usually involve a learning process and field-specific knowledge, they can still be relevant to list on your resume in certain situations.

    If you’ve had any exposure to technical skills in school, it can make you appear as a more experienced applicant. If you’re switching your occupation, a hard skill that was required in your previous position may be surprisingly helpful in your new job.

    Examples of technical skills include:

  8. Work ethic. Having a strong work ethic means that you’re prideful in your job, and always make it a priority to meet expectations. Work ethic transcends career path. It’s a quality needed to be successful across the board, and it can make you an ideal candidate for hire.

    Find examples of times you displayed a strong work ethic in school or a past job to enhance its impact on your resume.

    Examples of a strong work ethic include:

    • Reliability

    • Flexibility

    • Supporting your company’s growth

    • Prioritization

    • Professionalism

    • Showing up prepared and on time

    • Willingness to learn

    • Honesty

    • Motivation

    • Providing your best quality work

Other Transferable Skills

How to Improve Your Transferable Skills

Since transferable skills are essentially just soft skills that are valued across industries and roles, the best way to improve your transferable skill set is to focus on building a more solid foundation of soft skills.

While hard skills relate to specific technologies and knowledge of job-specific processes, soft skills relate to your abilities to work with others in a pleasant way.

Here are some ways to start improving your transferable skills today:

  • Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Start by taking an honest accounting of where you excel and where you could improve. Also consider whether it’s more valuable, professionally, to fix your weaknesses or double down on your strengths and become a master. Different careers favor different strategies, so consider what your professional goals are as well.

  • Emphasize collaboration. Being able to work as a team is the most important skill in the majority of roles out there. Business can rarely get done alone, so start becoming the ultimate team player at your current job. It’ll pay dividends when you’re highlighting your transferable skills later on in life.

  • Practice giving and receiving constructive criticism. The biggest pain point of communication for most people involves criticism. Most people don’t like doling out critiques and almost nobody likes hearing about their mistakes. But if you want to become an all-around great professional, the practice of both giving and receiving constructive criticism should be high on your list of priorities.

  • Get out of your comfort zone. If you hate public speaking, start making it a goal to make at least one contribution during each meeting. If you’re shy about taking initiative, sign up for a leadership role on a project or assignment. Whatever aspect of your job you normally avoid, lean into. It’ll strengthen your transferable skills immensely, and leave you feeling more confident and accomplished.

  • Take courses. Last but not least, there are plenty of online and in-person courses out there for developing transferable skills. The great thing is that these aren’t exactly skills you need certifications or credentials for, so most of your learning options will be free or very inexpensive.

You have three main avenues for showcasing your transferable skills while you’re on the hunt for a job:

  1. On your resume. Many people wrongly assume that your skills should only come up in your resume’s skills section. While that is one place your transferable skills should appear, it’s not the only place. They should also come up in your resume summary statement and in your professional experience section.

    In your summary statement, that might be as simple as using one or two adjectives to describe yourself that highlight your transferable skills, like “determined” or “collaborative.”

    In your resume’s professional experience section, be sure to highlight your skills in action rather than simply listing off your day-to-day duties. Focus instead on accomplishments that begin with powerful action verbs. Ideally, you want to include numbers as well, to give the hiring manager or recruiter the full context of your achievements.

    Finally, it’s important to consider the job description. You should try your best to incorporate the same keywords you find there into your resume’s skills section, as well as in the other sections of your resume.

  2. In your cover letter. Your cover letter gives you a chance to demonstrate your personality a bit more than your resume. Again, you want to pull inspiration from the job description and your research on the company and the role. Determine which qualities are most valuable to the employer, and then think of examples of times you’ve exhibited those qualities in a professional situation.

    The idea is to help the hiring manager see that you’ve tackled the exact issues that they’re looking to fix by hiring someone new. Show that you’ve applied transferable skills across a variety of relevant situations, and the recruiter will be impressed enough to call you in for an interview.

  3. During your interview. The most important advice we can give for preparing to show off your transferable skills in an interview involves stories — lots of stories. Interviewers love to ask behavioral questions about your past performance, and the more stories you have that indicate you know how to apply your transferable skills and achieve great results, the better.

    Beyond that, your soft skills are readily apparent during an interview. Do your best to appear confident but not cocky, and polite but not insincere. Hiring managers want to hire candidates who they believe will fit in well with the existing team, so coming across as personable is the best transferable skill you can showcase during your interview.

Resume Examples Highlighting Transferable Skills

  1. Resume #1 – Recent Graduate

    Jack Keller

    Chicago, IL, 77521 | (668)-296-3331 |

    A reliable and positive recent graduate from the University of Chicago with a Bachelors’s in Psychology with a minor in Advertising. Skills in communication and organization. Seeking an entry-level marketing position where I can develop my professional experience.


    Clifton Steakhouse, Chicago, IL
    Assistant Manager, April 2017-May 2020

    • Organize a schedule for a team of 10 employees

    • Train new hires

    • Relay excellent customer service

    • Managing inventory

    • Assessing sales

    • Quickly solving issues in service and managing conflict

    • Promoted to assistant manager from a waiter

    • Awarded with two raises over three years

    UC Student Magazine, Chicago, IL
    Contributing Member, September 2016-May 2020

    • Working cohesively with a large group of student and professor contributors

    • Editing

    • Organizing page layout

    • Finding donor support

    • Assisting in brainstorming

    • Meeting publication deadlines


    The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
    Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Advertising
    September 2016 – May 2020


    • Writing

    • Research

    • Record Keeping

    • Strong Communication

    • Presentation

    • Adaptable

  2. Resume #2 – Career Change

    Selena Moore

    4431 Beeks Place, Los Angeles, CA, 66217 | (668)-224-1974 |

    Dedicated and ambitious video producer. 5+ years previous experience in administrative work. Skills in organization and time management. Seeking an entry-level video production position where I can utilize my planning skills and develop hands-on experience in video production.

    Professional Experience

    Estes Park Dental Practice, Los Angeles, CA
    Office manager, September 2016-May 2020

    • Managed an administrative team of 7

    • Supported company growth

    • Communicated with customers daily

    • Managed emails

    • Filed records

    • Organized meetings

    • Maintained office schedule

    • Provided employee feedback

    • Set up appointments

    • Promoted to management from office associate

    Lazo amp; Lincoln Architecture, Los Angeles, CA
    Executive Assistant, June 2015-August 2016

    • Record and file organization

    • Making travel arrangements

    • Keeping calendars updated

    • Trained 2 employees

    • Helped plan events

    • Answered phone and emails

    • Awarded with a $2,000 annual bonus based on work performance


    • Microsoft Suites

    • Scheduling and Planning

    • Flexibility

    • Managing a team

    • Customer service

    • Organization

    • Time-Management

    • Clerical duties


    University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
    B.A. in Political Science, May 2015
    Maintained President’s List 2013-2015 (3.5 GPA)

  3. Resume #3 – Reentering the Workforce

    Jessica Barnes

    45 Lincoln Ave., Boston, MA, 66123 | (685)-228-8164 |

    Flexible and creative hairstylist with 7+ years of previous experience in high-end salons. Abilities in problem-solving and management. Seeking a stylist position to utilize experience and skills after taking 3 years off to raise a newborn son.

    Professional Experience

    New You Salon and Spa, Boston, MA
    Leading Hair Stylist, September 2014-2017

    • Direct client communication and scheduling

    • Teamwork with other stylists

    • Discussing goals with clients

    • Creating plans to reach style goals

    • Maintaining inventory

    • Organizing schedule

    • Promoted to leading hair stylist after the first year

    Lush Locks amp; Company, Boston, MA
    Associate Stylist, June 2010- August 2014

    • Responsible for coordinating own appointments

    • Providing customer service

    • Keeping client and invoice records

    • Cutting and dying clients

    • Give suggestions and create discussion to create client’s desired outcome

    • Awarded an annual salary raise of $10,000

    Beauty By Design Studios, Boston, MA
    Junior Stylist, September 2008-June 2010

    • Assisting senior staff

    • Managing incoming clients

    • Maintaining salon cleanliness

    • Answering phones and emails

    • Greeting clients

    • Giving simple haircuts


    • Product knowledge

    • Styling

    • Professionalism

    • Problem-Solving

    • Creativity

    • Cleanliness

    • Communication


    Boston National Beauty School
    Certification in Cosmetology and Hairstyling, June 2008

    Emory College
    Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications, May 2006

Transferable Skills Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the most important transferable skill?

  2. Many transferable skills are important, but the most important may be communication and collaboration. Almost every profession requires some level of communication and collaboration with others. Whether you are dealing with clients, coworkers, or contractors, you need to know how to communicate goals and listen to others. This is fundamental to working together successfully.

  3. What should I do with my transferable skills?

  4. You can always improve your transferable skills. Transferable skills are like tools, they can get dull over time without proper care. Always be mindful of ways to sharpen your transferable skills. The best way to do this is through experience. Look for activities and responsibilities that require you to use your skills more than usual.

  5. Are transferable skills necessary?

  6. Yes, transferable skills are necessary. There is not a single profession that can be done without transferable skills. That is why we call them “transferable”. Humans are social creatures and we do a lot of similar things regardless of the activity, such as solve problems, manage time, or adapt to changes. Having a well rounded set of transferable skills is crucial to being a top notch professional.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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