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You may have hidden transferable skills — here’s how to use them

You may have hidden transferable skills — here’s how to use them

You've got (transferable) skills you might not even know about

It can be daunting to change careers or enter a field where you don't have experience. But the good news is that even if you feel unprepared for a new role, you probably already have some skills that can help you succeed. Throughout your professional and personal life, you may have been sharpening skills that you haven't considered. That's right; you've got transferable skills you might not even know about. From school to family and beyond, the skills you have may impress you. Read on to learn about some hidden abilities and how to showcase them during your job search.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are the competencies and abilities that you can easily use across industries and positions. There are some skills, like the use of specific programs or other technical knowledge, that apply only to a few positions. Other skills, like communication, organization, and problem-solving, can help you in a variety of roles.

Since these skills are so broadly important, you may even use them in nonprofessional settings like clubs, volunteer opportunities, or even personal relationships. While transferable skills may not be the first abilities you consider when you think about what qualifies you for a role, they are some of the most important to develop if you want to become a versatile employee. You may have even begun developing them already without ever being aware.

Where can you pick up transferable skills?

You can pick up transferable skills anywhere. Whenever you hold a position in any industry, there are certain skills that help you manage your work and collaborate with others. You may develop communication skills that help you share information with others in person or in writing, for example. Organization can help you keep track of all your requirements and make sure that you don't lose any important documents.

But this learning isn't reserved only for jobs. You can also gain similar skills in school, through volunteer or community positions, through hobbies, and even during personal interactions. If you're always in charge of your family's holiday celebration, for example, you've probably gained important organizational and event-planning skills that could serve you well in your next role. Volunteering may have helped you develop empathy for others. Your position as the captain of your volleyball team may have prepared you to lead a group of employees at work. 

Examples of transferable skills

Not sure if you have any transferable skills? Here's a list of common abilities that you can apply to almost any role:


Chances are, many of your professional and personal roles have involved communication. Whether it's talking with someone in person or over the phone or writing an email that quickly and clearly expresses important information, communication is a crucial skill in any role that involves working with others. You can also develop active listening skills that can help you better understand and handle customer and manager expectations. 


If you've ever completed any work that involved multiple aspects or requirements, you've probably used organization skills. Without organization, it's easy to forget key components or fall behind schedule. You can use this skill to track information and store important documents or data to help you find it whenever you need it. If you've ever planned any sort of party or sent out invitations to anything and tracked responses, you may be familiar with this skill.


In life, we often work in teams. This skill allows you to understand your role and develop strategies to help complete your best work while elevating others. Many jobs require you to work with others as a team, but you may also have developed strong teamwork skills on sports teams or during group projects in school. If you've ever held a leadership position in any of these roles, you may know what it takes to inspire others and make sure that the team is as strong as possible.


Adaptability is exactly the type of skill that can help you succeed in a new role. It involves quickly learning about the requirements of a new situation and altering your behavior to match the new setting. If you've ever changed schools or had to move to a new office, you may have learned to quickly adapt to your surroundings.

"You can pick up transferable skills anywhere. Whenever you hold a position in any industry, there are certain skills that help you manage your work and collaborate with others."

How to highlight your abilities

These tips can help you demonstrate your qualification for a new opportunity:

Use your resume

Your resume is a great place to add some of your most important transferable skills. If you have previous work experience, you can briefly describe how your job duties helped you develop and use essential soft skills. You can reiterate these abilities in a separate "skills" section on your document, allowing you to list some of the most crucial competencies. If you feel as if one particular transferable skill is the most impressive or relevant, focus on that ability in your professional summary and throughout the document.

If you don't have as much previous job experience or you'd simply like to focus on the abilities you gained in nonprofessional activities, you can consider adding unique sections that fit your specific background. For example, you can include a volunteering section or a clubs and activities subheading. When you add these experiences, be prepared to discuss their impacts in your cover letter and interview.

Consider a cover letter

Submitting a cover letter with your resume can give you the opportunity to explain your skills in greater detail. Select a few key professional or personal experiences and write about how they helped you develop certain transferable skills. From there, you can describe how those skills may make you a great fit for a new role. Your cover letter may end up being about a page in length, giving you the space to discuss your skills rather than just listing them.

Make the most of your interview

If you receive an interview for a new position, this can be a great opportunity to discuss your abilities and provide anecdotes about how you've used them. Whenever possible, try to include examples of times when you demonstrated or improved your most relevant skills at work or in your personal life. By doing this, you can show your personality and your ability to take something from every life experience. Try to remain professional and on-topic during your interview, but don't be afraid to discuss nontraditional life experiences if you believe they set you apart as a potential candidate.

It can be challenging to apply for a new role, but you may already be more prepared than you know. With a bit of careful planning, your application can showcase a wide range of useful abilities, even if they have nontraditional sources. If you're ready to begin your job search for your next great role, upload your resume today to start looking. We can't wait to help you find your ideal fit.

More tips to help you show off your skills:

Discover some additional soft, transferable skills that you need in your career. 

Want to make sure that your transferable skills really shine? Learn how to make a resume that gets you your dream job. 

Avoid any common resume mistakes that distract from your impressive skills.

Showcase your best skills by asking the right questions in your interview.