Some skills are important in all industries.

You know that having and showing skills is important when conducting a job search, but did you know that there are different types of skills? There are, and each type is valuable if you want to land your next job. Here we break down one of the lesser-known skill types ‒ transferable skills ‒ and how to include them on your CV effectively.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills, sometimes called soft skills, are those that are not specific to one particular type of job. Basically, they're skills that you can easily transfer from one type of role to another. For example, if you are good at negotiating, that's a skill that can be used whether you're in sales, management, or purchasing. Something like coding, however, isn't a transferable skill; it's considered a hard skill as it will only be useful if you're a programmer.

Who needs transferable skills on their CV?

Most people will find that transferable skills shine through naturally on their CV. However, emphasising those skills is absolutely crucial on CVs for certain job hunters. In particular, people wishing to change career and those just leaving education will need to put much more focus on their transferable skills to make up for lack of hard skills and experience in the field they're aiming for.

Where should you include transferable skills on your CV?

The most obvious place to highlight your transferable skills is in a dedicated section, which you can call 'Key Skills', 'Core Competencies' or 'Areas of Expertise'. For most job seekers, this section will focus on hard skills directly relevant to a specific role, but for people in the categories defined above – career changers and university graduates – this is where transferable skills will come into their own.

There are also other sections on your CV where you can make reference to your transferable skills. The profile section is a prime spot to highlight the one or two skills most relevant to the job you're aiming for. Additionally, in your career history, you can include some transferable skills, rather than (or as well as) industry- or role-specific skills. And, if you choose to include a hobbies section, this is the perfect place to advertise skills you've acquired outside of work.

How should you include your transferable skills?

To include transferable skills on your CV, first identify the key skills that apply to the kind of job you're targeting. To do this, look through relevant job adverts and analyse the LinkedIn profiles of people currently in similar roles.

When you know which skills are the most in-demand, you can start to work them into your CV. You will make the biggest impact by providing specific examples, rather than by simply stating you have a certain skill. Consider the credibility of 'Possesses good customer service skills' against “Delivered excellent customer service by resolving complaints quickly' or 'Achieved 95% in mystery shopping assessments'.

Transferable skills examples for CVs

There are certain skills that come up time and again and are always in demand. Even as you progress up the career ladder, you'll find that the same skills are still valued, albeit at a higher level. Key examples are:

  • Communication: negotiation, influencing, facilitation, reporting, public speaking

  • Teamwork: sharing ideas, collaboration, building relationships

  • Leadership: delegation, coaching, managing change, decision-making

  • Organisation: planning, meeting deadlines, prioritising, forecasting, setting goals

  • Customer service: handling enquiries, resolving complaints

  • Financial administration: handling cash, processing expenses, setting budgets, controlling costs

  • Languages: relevant expertise in any foreign language, written or spoken

Examples of transferable skills for sales professionals

For sales professionals, clearly, the ability to close sales is the priority. To achieve this, numerous transferable skills are required including building a rapport, developing relationships, negotiating, persuading, influencing, customer service and the ability to achieve targets.

To include these on your CV, you'll need to identify specific examples of how and when you've used these skills. Bonus points if you can include positive outcomes or quantifiable results. For example: 'Surpassed targets by an average of 10% per month', or 'Received positive feedback from customer satisfaction surveys for delivering consistently exceptional service'.

Examples of transferable skills for travel professionals

Travel professionals need strong organisational skills, a focus on customer service and the ability to communicate with a wide range of people, among other skills.

Consider how you've already demonstrated these in your life so far; maybe whilst at university, you organised a fundraiser or event, or maybe as a PA, you were responsible for managing a busy diary and planning meetings. Both of these demonstrate excellent organisational skills, which, whilst not gained in the same industry, can be easily transferred to travel.

Examples of transferable skills for advertising professionals

To work in advertising, you'll need skills such as creativity, collaboration and the ability to manage projects. These can be incorporated into your CV with a link to an online portfolio and details of a project (university or professional) that you managed through to a successful conclusion, even if that project was not related to advertising.

Examples of transferable skills for hospitality professionals

Naturally, customer service is the No. 1 transferable skill required to secure a career in hospitality. These roles are usually very customer-facing, so you'll need to emphasise your communication, interpersonal and relationship-building skills, as well as your ability to solve problems.

Luckily, these are very common transferable skills that you can bring out in your CV through previous professional experience, hobbies and voluntary roles. Again, specific examples are more impactful than vague, sweeping statements.

Summarising transferable skills

In summary, transferable skills are a vital part of your job search ‒ and your CV. They enable you to show a recruiter how your skills align with the requirements of the role, even if your experience doesn't directly relate.

Even those wishing to move up the career ladder in the same industry can maximise the use of transferable skills on their CV to demonstrate that they have the higher-level abilities required to progress. The key is to integrate them naturally into your CV with examples, rather than just adding one long, dry list. 

Are you properly showcasing your transferable skills on your CV? Find out by receiving a free CV critique from TopCV.

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