Transferable Skills – What Are They and How Do You Apply Them to a New Career?

Changing your career to an entirely different industry can seem like an almost impossible task, especially depending on the length of time you’ve spent in your current field – or if you’re looking for your first job. It can take time to build up qualifications that are relevant to the next position you want to apply for, but that shouldn’t discourage you from making that career change you’ve been wanting. But there’s no need to worry, there is a simple solution to help improve your cover letter, resume and even selection criteria to make yourself a viable candidate for that new position: identifying and listing your transferable skills.

What are transferable skills?

Basically, transferable skills (usually soft skills, such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, etc.) are abilities and skills that you’ve demonstrated and learned in your current (and previous) roles, that can be transferred to a new position you’re applying for and also other areas of life, such as .

Examples of transferable skills include:

  • Time management
  • Teamwork
  • Multi-tasking
  • Project management
  • Organisation
  • Creativity
  • Budget management
  • Customer service
  • Verbal communication

What do I do first?

The first step is to identify what the company wants from the person they are wishing to hire to fill the role. Look through not only the job description, but also research the company to see what their culture is like, and what they value. The ‘About Us’ sections on a business’s Facebook page, LinkedIn page and website are great places to reserach to find out what sort of people (and skills those people have) that will stand out from other applicants due to their suitability. This gives you an edge and saves you from listing all your transferable skills, even if they’re not relevant, which will work against you. More isn’t always better.

How do I decide which transferable skills to include in my application?

Once you’ve identified what the company is looking for, it’s time to compare that with your own skills and abilities and see which ones can be applied to your new career. Look at what you’ve learned in previous jobs, as well as while you were at school and in life in general; you’ve probably demonstrated things like teamwork and time management plenty of times before, and these can be translated into a professional setting easily.

It’s then a matter of working these into your application, and the interview as well (when you get to that stage of the recruitment process).

How do I include these skills in my application?

Plenty of companies will offer training to the right applicant, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t think you have the necessary experience because that’s where your transferable skills come in. Utilise your cover letter (or selection criteria) to explain how you can perform the roles responsibilities by relating them to your previous experience and the skills you’ve gained that relate to the position. When listing your responsibilities in previous roles in your resume (as well as your cover letter and selection criteria) be sure to include those skills that are transferable to keep the information relevant.


Of course, this advice doesn’t mean that you can jump straight to applying for a top-level role you’re not qualified for in the field you want to get into – this is just a way to get your foot in the door and start working your way up the ladder. As stated before, many companies will train new hires in their industry and upskill them, so if you can show that you’re capable of performing similar duties and have skills that can be utilised in your prospective role, you’re much more likely to be hired and start your new career.

If you need a hand with identifying transferable skills and which ones to include in your job applications, please get in touch with the friendly team here at Resumes to You. We’ll help craft you the perfect cover letter, resume, selection criteria or LinkedIn profile for your desired career.


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