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Transferable skills: What exactly are they?

Image representing Transferable skills: What exactly are they? from Artemis Recruitment Consultants

Transferable skills are talents and abilities that you can develop throughout your life. They are applicable in nearly all workplace situations and therefore highly desired by employers. In this article, we will take you through some transferable skill examples, how you can develop them, and how you can talk about them in interviews.

Transferable skills can be hard or soft. Take, for example, proficiency in Microsoft Excel, or strong leadership skills. However, they have in common that they will be useful no matter what route your career takes and are sought after by employers everywhere.

Crucial transferable skills:

There are many transferable skills that you can develop over a lifetime. Far too many to include in one article. However, we have put together a short list of important skills you should be cultivating and communicating to employers:

  • Leadership and team management- the ability to lead a team in successfully completing a task, from start to finish. Leadership skills indicate that you manage and delegate tasks within a project, whilst considering the project deadline and team needs. You are able to solve problems that arise in the team, motivate others, and support a team in completing your goals
  • Problem-solving- the ability to assess a challenge and generate an effective solution. Employers need team members who can competently confront obstacles and resolve them calmly and logically. Problem-solving indicates that you are also highly skilled in many other areas, including critical thinking, research, and communication. Problem-solving often involves innovation and pushing industries forward.
  • Efficiency- in fast-paced industries like financial services efficiency is valued. To demonstrate that you are an efficient worker you want to be able to show evidence of strong time management. Time management refers to the way a person plans their tasks according to deadlines. People with good time management skills are better able to prioritise tasks, avoid distractions, and assess the progress and quality of their work.
  • Communication- in any workplace, good communication is key. Good communication allows you to be a better colleague and to provide the best service to customers. There are four areas of communication that you will want to develop and demonstrate to your employers.
    • Writing: Depending on your role the form of written communication you use may change. However, whatever the form, being able to summarise your most important points, use accessible vocabulary and be grammatically correct are universal writing skills.
    • Speaking: This form involves being able to talk to others, using professional tones of voice and vocabulary as well as reading and using body language, facial expressions and other gestures.
    • Listening: You should engage in active listening when responding to colleagues and customers in order to understand their concerns, question, and instructions.
    • Presenting: You should speak clearly, have confident body language, easy-to-follow slides to demonstrate good presentation skills. Being able to answer questions and defend arguments are also part of being a successful presenter in the workplace.
  • Technological literacy- the ability to learn, operate and perform basic troubleshooting on computers, software and other technological equipment. Many employers seek candidates who have prior experience with common workplace technology or can learn to operate new tools and software quickly.

Talking about transferable skills on a CV:

1. Have a master CV for reference but edit and tailor your CV for every application.

2. Don’t just list every transferable skill you have, instead:

Analyse the job description: go through with a highlighter and find keywords that explicitly or indirectly indicate certain transferable skills. Make a note of these skills and think about where you have demonstrated them in your career or previous experience. Tailor your experiences on your CV to demonstrate how you have previously used and developed these skills.

Secondly, it is crucial to demonstrate transferable skills instead of merely stating them. Anyone can sprinkle their CV and cover letter with buzz words relating to transferable skills, and employers know this.

You need to prove that you have the attributes you are claiming you have. In your CV where you have limited space, take a relevant transferable skill, describe an achievement from your experience that required you to use this skill, and explain your role in securing this achievement.

Talking about transferable skills in an interview:

When discussing your skills in an interview there’s an acronym that can help you out- PEE.

You may remember this from GCSE English as Point Evidence Explain, and it will come in handy in your interviews too:

Consider this scenario. You are being interviewed for a Paraplanner role at a Financial Services firm. You know that they want someone who is good at research, so plan to mention this in your interview.

It is not enough to state you have the transferable skill e.g “I’m really good at research”.

You also need to provide evidence to back up this claim e.g “I developed this skill at university and as a result, succeeded in receiving a first-class in my dissertation”

Then reference it back to the role you are interviewing for e.g “This would stand me in good stead when preparing the technical reports you mentioned”

Developing transferable skills:

If you think you could improve your transferable skills, it is very easy to invest time in doing so.

First of all, it is likely you possess more transferable skills than you think. Spend some time researching skills relevant to your field and note down times when you have used this skill. It may be that you have developed this skill without realising it, and spending some time thinking through your experience can help you to identify your transferable skills. It is also helpful to talk through your work experience with a friend. They can be more objective than yourself, in noticing your abilities and attributes.

There are many online courses you can take in professional capabilities that can supplement your CV and develop your transferable skills. LinkedIn and Google run many short professional courses that can broaden your horizons.

Volunteering is also a great way to develop transferable skills that can aid your career, whilst doing something fulfilling. Getting involved with a local charity will allow you to build leadership and team working skills, whilst doing something you love.