Transferable Skills

What Are Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills, sometimes referred to as soft skills, are those critical strengths, talents, qualities, and personable attributes that go beyond the job specific skills that you are gaining in your academic classes or internships. Transferable skills can be:

  • Acquired in a variety of different settings both on and off campus.
  • Developed in class projects, extra-curricular activities, sports, volunteer and community service experiences, internships, and past work experience.
  • Qualities, talents, and attributes that you naturally possess.
  • Transferable Skills Handout 

Why Are They Important?

Transferable skills are vitally important in helping you communicate your value to an employer when they are reviewing your resume and cover letter and when they are talking to you in the interview. Even when you are applying for a position that is not directly related to your major or previous work experience, you’ll want to connect your transferable skills to the job description.

Examples of Transferable Skills

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers across the country and asks them to rate the top qualities and skills they seek in new college hires. Here are the top transferable skills employers look for.

  • Communication skills (verbal and written)
  • Strong work ethic
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical/quantitative skills
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Computer and/or technical skills

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2012, Job Outlook Survey

Statements Demonstrating Transferable Skills

Depending on the desired transferable skills that an employer has listed on the job description, write accomplishment statements that highlight how you have that skill or how you have used that skill. Here are some examples.

  • Goal-driven leader, who confidently motivates, mobilizes, and coaches team members to meet high performance standards.
  • Personable professional whose strengths include cultural sensitivity and an ability to build rapport with a diverse workforce in multicultural settings.
  • Results-driven achiever with exemplary planning and organizational skills, along with a high degree of detail orientation.
  • Highly adaptable, positive, resilient, patient risk-taker who is open to new ideas.
  • Resourceful team player who excels at building trusting relationships with customers and colleagues.
  • Innovative problem-solver who can generate workable solutions and resolve problems.
  • Highly analytical with demonstrated talent for identifying, scrutinizing, improving, and streamlining complex processes.
  • Flexible team player who thrives in environments requiring ability to effectively prioritize and juggle multiple concurrent projects.
  • Exceptional listener and communicator who effectively conveys information verbally and in writing.
  • Conscientious go-getter who is highly organized, dedicated, and committed to professionalism.
  • Highly motivated self-starter who takes initiative with minimal supervision.