What Are Transferable Skills?

When it comes to a job search, your skills can make or break your ability to land a job. But as you read through job descriptions, you may feel like you lack many of the skills and abilities employers want in candidates.

Fortunately, these lists are often more like “wish lists,” and employers don’t expect candidates to possess every skill. However, to improve your chances of landing the job, consider highlighting your transferable skills to help show why you’d make a great addition to the team.

What Are Transferable Skills? Definition & Meaning

Transferable skills are the skills you use in any job, no matter the role or the industry. You can learn these skills in school or on the job, and they are an essential part of your overall skill set.

Your skills will generally fall into two categories: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are specific to a job or field (like coding or bookkeeping) and usually require specialized training. Soft skills are more general but no less important to your career success (think: communication or management).

Hard and soft skill sets have transferable skills. For example, speaking a foreign language is a hard skill but is transferable to many professions. Problem-solving is a soft skill that you’ll likely use no matter what your job is.

Why Transferable Skills Matter

Transferable skills can give you an edge over other job seekers. While every applicant possesses them, not everyone will highlight those skills to employers.

Calling attention to your transferable skills isn’t enough, though. Explain to the employer how you will use them to the company’s advantage.

For example, if you’re a writer, a stellar portfolio of content will help you stand out. But if you’re a writer that also understands the ins and outs of SEO (a hard and transferable skill), you’re a more valuable candidate to the employer.

And career changers can fill in experience gaps with transferable skills. If you’re currently a customer service representative and you want to switch to a marketing role, highlighting your transferable skills (like conflict resolution) can help the employer see how you’ll excel in the role.

Examples of Transferable Skills

Here are some of the most sought-after transferable skills you may want to include in your next job application:


No matter what kind of job it is, you will use your written and verbal communication skills. The ability to adapt your communication skills is vital, though. The way you communicate with a client isn’t the same as how you’d communicate with the CEO.


While the ability to solve a math problem is important, problem-solving abilities mean that you’re able to figure things out on your own. Whether it’s a tech issue or improving a process, problem-solvers get things done.


Leadership doesn’t have to mean “managed people.” Leadership often means that you’ve inspired or mentored other people who weren’t direct reports. It can also refer to you taking charge of a project.

Project Management

Seeing something through from start to finish is a skill employers want from all of their staff. It shows that you don’t drop things in the middle, and you persevere to ensure all the loose ends are tied up.


Even when you run your own company, career success often hinges on building effective, professional relationships with others. This includes people on your team, outside of your team, and outside of your company.


Getting your job is one thing. Getting it done without your boss having to remind you is another! Your boss will appreciate your ability to accomplish your tasks independently, without them having to check in on you all the time.

Your Secret Weapon

Transferable skills can be your secret weapon to landing the job of your dreams. Using them can give you an edge over other candidates, help you change careers, and demonstrate why you should land that job.

Looking for more skills to make your resume stand out? Read Best Skills to Put On Your Resume (Examples).

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