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Top 5 transferable skills that must be on your resume

CareerBuilder | March 1, 2021

The transferable skills employers value the most

Employers look for these 5 transferable skills in potential employees because they're common in the most successful candidates. Use them to your advantage.

Want to try a new industry or embark on a career change but don't think you have what it takes to make the leap? You may be better prepared than you realize. When you tap into your transferable skills and use those to market yourself, your opportunities open up, enabling you to explore new industries and job titles.

Transferable skills are those that can be applied to a wide range of jobs and industries. These skills are usually learned on the job, at school, during volunteer work, through community activities, at networking events or even in everyday social activities. Below are the top five transferable skills employers across every industry look for most in potential employees.


1. Analytical skills

The ability to analyze data, trends or reports is both increasingly in demand and highly transferable, according to Rian Powell, director of recruiting, accounting and finance at LaSalle Network. "We're starting to see more STEM candidates in the job market who have experience and knowledge in high-volume data tools, and if you worked in one data set, you can work in another," Powell says. While you may not consider yourself an analytical person, Powell says many people have analyzed data in some capacity, whether it was for a school project, in a previous job or "even looking at how a personal post on Facebook did in terms of activity and analyzing why it performed a certain way."


2. Communication

"No matter what position level or industry, you must communicate effectively – both verbally as well as in writing – to be effective in your job," says Wade Pierson, owner of Impact Talent Ventures. And, Powell adds: "Communication is one of the most important skills to have in the workplace and can be transferred from any previous experience – personal or professional." For example, at school, one might develop their communication skills from participating in a committee, club or college sport, or by working in group projects and presentations. In the workforce, communication skills develop through everyday experience "or even paying attention to effective communicators and how they approach different types of conversation," Powell says.


3. Computer literacy

Zachary Painter, a career adviser, suggests developing STEM-related skills, such as coding, which are highly desirable. While you may not have the time or patience to learn computer programming, any time and effort you can devote to developing your computer literacy skills and familiarizing yourself with up-and-coming software, tools and terminology will not go to waste. "You can use these skills at any job, as technology is becoming more ubiquitous in the workplace," Painter says.


4. Presentation skills

"Presentation skills can be used in so many different environments: team meetings, client presentations, one-on-one meetings with a supervisor, individual staff evaluations, and committee meetings, to name a few," says April Klimkiewicz, owner of bliss evolution, a career coaching business. "Presentation skills are important because you have to know your audience and determine what information will be most important and relevant to them in order to affect your intended outcome."


5. Prioritization

"Being able to prioritize your work is extremely important in today's labor market," Klimkiewicz says. "This allows the manager to focus on other goals rather than checking in with their direct reports constantly."

The ability to prioritize shows that you have a strong work ethic, according to Powell, and you don't need to have recent work experience to hone this skill. "For recent college students entering the workforce, examples can stem from balancing class with sports, or with an extracurricular activity," Powell says. "If you are a parent returning to the workforce, this is an ongoing balancing act and knowing what is important [versus what is] urgent is a skill that is relatable to any industry."


How to hone your transferable skills

You probably already have most of these skills; however, if you want to expand your skill set, try taking classes online or at a local community college, Powell suggests. "Do it outside of the workplace to show that you're passionate about it and willing to invest your own time," she says. Expanding your professional network can help, too. "You could also attend networking events in that new industry or role to meet people in the industry who can help you learn and grow."



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