Transferable Skills (what they are and how to highlight them)

Transferable Skills (what they are and how to highlight them)


“Transferable skills” is a HR/recruitment term often used when considering applicants and their previous experience. How you highlight your transferable skills can go a long way towards being considered for roles you haven’t specifically done before.

Essentially transferable skills are those you have that aren’t exactly what the job ad is asking for BUT are just as applicable or relevant (and sometimes even more so) for the role! Think of them as being portable/adaptable from one role to another.

Say you have spent the majority of your working life in roles that require very little interaction with the general public – like data entry, pick/packing etc but you’d like to give customer service in a call centre a try. You may read through a job ad and see things like “excellent communication skills” and think to yourself “well I haven’t had to communicate in a customer service role so this counts me out” Not quite! If you can demonstrate that you’re an excellent communicator this still applies to you!

But how? Well, if you have worked in roles where you’ve had to communicate with team mates or supervisors to explain processes, clear up queries, or contribute to team meetings – these are still excellent examples of communication skills in a work setting.

Fantastic! How do I let a hiring manager know I consider myself a right fit for the role by highlighting my transferable skills?

There are a few ways to do this.

Firstly, your cover letter. When expressing your interest in the position you’re applying for you can use your cover letter as a great tool for hyping yourself up! Using the previous example something like “During my previous position at ……….. I often contributed to team meetings, provided product information and placement to team members and effectively assisted in problem solving where required.”  This shows that you are able to communicate with others, think laterally and work well within a team – which are all hallmarks of a great customer service rep!

Secondly, Your resume – use this as an opportunity to shed some light on the things you did in your previous roles and not just list off your duties. You can use 2-3 things you achieved or contributed to in that role to highlight what you are capable of. Was there a time you suggested a new process, exceeded your KPIs or had a new team member shadow you? Perfect place to mention it! We will dive into putting a CV together in more detail in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled.

And, during your interview! It’s a little different as you’re forced to think on the spot and figure out how to communicate what you’ve done. A key thing we find that helps is to think of it as “showing” instead of “telling”. What this means is when answering the question remember to use specific stories or examples of times when you think you used that skill successfully. Such as “While working as a pick/packer at ……… I was often the go-to person to explain how to use the labeller or where to find stock”

Zety have a fantastic blog  on the subject and provide further examples and how to include them in your CV

If you’re keen to see how your transferable skills could get you into a role with ASA, check out our current vacancies