Identifying your transferable skills

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Identifying your transferable skills

BY Skillset Marketing 06 Oct, 2021

Identifying your transferable skills

With changes in the employment market at the moment due to covid-19, technological advances and increasing digitisation, it is possible you may be considering a jump to a role in a different sector or transitioning to a completely different career.

Whilst the prospect of making a change may seem scary, it will be made easier if you can identify your transferable skills.

Transferable skills are abilities which are not specific to a particular job or career type. They are skills you will have developed during your life through work, volunteering, internships, hobbies and participating in sport that you can take to a different job or career path.

What types of skills are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are a combination of skills and include:

  • Hard skills – these are skills which people have generally acquired through education, training or hands-on experience. These skills are measurable and observable which means you probably have a certificate, licence or other documentation which shows you can perform them and/or you can demonstrate these skills when asked. Examples of hard skills include any job specific skills such as being able to drive a forklift, the ability to use particular computer software, such as Microsoft Word or MYOB, or being able to edit and proofread documents.
  • Soft skills – these are non-technical skills which are often linked to your personality and life experience. They are skills which help you work with other people and be successful in the workplace. They include skills such as teamwork, conflict resolution, problem solving, creativity, time management, demonstrating initiative and being flexible.

Interestingly, it is often said that hard skills will get you noticed by an employer, but soft skills will win you the job!

Transferable skills can be very valuable to businesses and organisations. In fact, research conducted for SEEK in 2021 reveals the top five skills that matter to employers are transferable skills. These are:

  • communication skills (36%)
  • teamwork/collaboration (32%)
  • critical thinking (28%)
  • attention to detail/thoroughness (27%)
  • self-motivation/initiative (23%).

How do I identify my transferable skills?

If you are unsure what your transferable skills are, then it is necessary to work out a way of identifying these. This is especially the case if you think that a lack of specific workplace or sector experience may prevent you from getting the job you want.

The following strategies may help in identifying the transferable skills you have:

  • Conduct a stocktake of your own skills – Make a list of all the jobs, volunteering and significant activities/events you have been involved in. From this, record the hard and soft skills you needed to undertake these. Once you have done this, review your list of skills. Are some of these skills recurring again and again? And how would you rate your proficiency in each of these? Your transferable skills are most likely the skills you have used repeatedly and which you are highly competent in.
  • Phone a friend – Sometimes the people closest to us, such as friends and relatives, as well as colleagues from current and past jobs can be helpful when trying to assess our best qualities. Often they can identify strengths and abilities that we don’t see ourselves. Develop a list of key people who you can ask about your top hard and soft skills. Approach these people and make a time to talk to them. When you do, make sure you take notes about the feedback they provide.
  • Research skills by occupation – If you feel you are lacking specific details about the skills you have used during your career, then conducting some research on the skills used by each occupation may be valuable. One resource which can help you is the Australian Skills Classification which identifies the skills used by occupations, and enables users of this information to explore the connections and transferability of these skills. If you search by occupation, you will be provided with a list of key skills against a particular job, including the technology skills used and a rating of the core competencies needed for the job. This information will help you with developing a list of hard and soft skills you have attained over your career so far.
  • Conduct a skills quiz – If you are time poor, then you might be interested in taking a quiz to help you work out what skills you have used at past jobs. Skills Match is a tool available on the Job Outlook website which allows you to enter in the titles of previous jobs and see the types of skills used by these jobs, as well as how these skills can transfer to other occupations. It will help you identify your transferable skills. It is an excellent tool for understanding where your skills can take you.

What next?

Once you have identified your transferable skills, make sure you include these in your CV or resume in a specific skills section up front. Rather than having a long list of skills, make sure you only select the key skills which match the job role you are applying for – keep it to a maximum of 5 top skills.




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Australia Skillset would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work.
We are honoured to be on the ancestral lands of those whose cultures are among the oldest living cultures in human history. We pay respect to the Elders, past, present and to the younger generation of the community who will be the future leaders in years to come.