Do not underestimate transferable skills


by Fhiona Lamb



Do not underestimate transferable skills

​It is believed that recruiters and hiring managers skim through CVs in seconds in search of those skills that best match the brief. What is often overlooked, however, is the importance that transferable skills recover and that recruitment professionals and employers indeed look at them when searching for candidates.

This is even more true for the times we live in. Just think of the abundant use of the word ‘pivot’ in 2020! This is particularly relevant in the job market where – as we know – many professionals had to steer their careers, maybe even ‘re-invent’ themselves to secure a new job or keep their current one.

A great case study for this is the Qantas pilots becoming bus drivers, but I have also heard of event managers providing admin support to accountants and financial planners, for example.

This is all about transferable skills! 


Transferable skills, also known as portable skills, are defined as ‘employable skills which can be used productively in different jobs, occupations and industries’. The essence of this definition is that transferable skills enable workers to access different types of employment opportunities and different forms of employment across different sectors. Transferable skills are developed not just through work experience, but through personal life experiences as well.


The answer is: always. It doesn’t hurt to include on your CV those capabilities that can be applicable to a wide range of sectors and occupations. 

In fact, the lack of relevant, industry-specific experience doesn’t always represent a barrier to getting a job. Employers are often looking for potential. It is vital for this ‘potential’ to be highlighted on a CV by

Transferable skills

demonstrating additional skills that can be essential to the role whilst not necessarily being role-specific.
Transferable skills however are paramount in situations such as:

 – Career change
 – Career progression
 – Rejoining the workforce after a long period of time not working
 – Seeking a promotion



This is how to impart information to others by speaking, writing or in another medium. These skills include the ability to ask questions, listen to others, know how to interpret body language and talk to internal and external stakeholders clearly and effectively. In the workplace, employers value strong communicators for their ability to work with others and move projects forward.

Team Working
This skill refers to the ability to work with others towards a common goal. Team working shares a strong connection with other qualities/skills such as empathy, listening, communicating and fostering relationships.

A particularly relevant skill for our day and age is adaptability. The way a professional deals with change (in terms of team, management, projects etc) is highly regarded by employers who seek people who are flexible, who can quickly learn new processes and hit goals whilst maintaining a positive attitude.

Digital / Technology Literacy
How comfortable are you to navigate and learn new software and tech platforms? These days almost every industry requires some level of technology knowledge. Showcasing on your CV that you are familiar (not necessarily proficient) with a range of technologies demonstrates to employers that you can learn new tools quickly.

Problem Solving / Analytical Thinking
The ability to examine information or a situation in detail in order to identify key elements, their strengths and weaknesses and use these to compile a persuasive argument, make recommendations or solve a problem.


As the name suggests, vocational education is uniquely designed for specific industries, roles and vocations in mind and VET (Vocational Education and Training) courses develop directly applicable skills for the chosen career path. With this in mind, it may seem contradictory to affirm it’s possible to develop transferable skills through vocational studies. Let’s bust this myth!

transferable skills 2

The best way to do so is with an example. A candidate of mine with extensive experience in Sales and Business Development for IT services and products wished to make a career change and move into digital marketing. Whilst still working her sales job, she decided to enrol in a 3-month digital marketing course which 

involved attending evening classes, homework and the delivery of a marketing plan as a project to be completed in teams by the end of the course.

Can you think of any transferable skills my candidate could include in her CV as a result of her undertaking this vocational education? Here’s some ideas:

  • Organisational Skills. Studying whilst working full time requires a great deal of organisation and time management to ensure tasks are prioritised for deadlines to be met.
  • Self-motivation and Drive. Hiring managers can see that this person is self-motivated and committed to grow and further develop their expertise in different areas.
  • Project Management. The delivery of the marketing plan entails the ability to manage a project from start to finish, from understanding the requirements, establishing timelines and milestones, defining roles and responsibilities across the team and tracking ongoing progress.
  • Teamwork. Working on the delivery of the marketing plan as a team allowed my candidate to develop not only her collaboration skills, but also interpersonal communication skills and perhaps leadership.

When writing or updating your CV, don’t forget to include your transferable skills! Think about your professional experience, your education as well as your personal life. Any situation we face, allows us to develop capabilities that we can use in the workplace.

You can list transferable skills on your resume in the following sections:

 – Resume summary or objective
 – Employment history descriptions
 – Skills list

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