What Are Transferable Skills? 10 Examples for your Resume

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Transferable skills, also known as portable skills, are those versatile abilities that you can bring to any role or industry—which is particularly helpful when changing careers. But you don’t need to be an expert to have them; these valuable skills can be acquired from all sorts of experiences, like past jobs, volunteering, internships, college, or personal projects. So, even if you’re an entry-level candidate, chances are you already have some transferable skills.

If you don’t, it’s time to start developing a few. They’re highly valued by recruiters and can definitely set your resume apart. Not sure where to start? Find out everything you need to know about transferable skills: meaning, examples for your resume, and why they’re so important.

What are transferable skills?

The transferable skills definition is straightforward: they are measurable abilities or knowledge that hold value in any role or industry. The term “transferable” comes from the fact that, regardless of changes in your job title or company, these skills can seamlessly transition to your new position.

“Think of them as your superpowers!” says Muse career coach and corporate recruiting specialist Yolanda M. Owens. “These superpowers can be used in any professional setting. For example, coding, languages, research, project coordination, administrative support, data entry, editing, training….”

Why are transferable skills important?

Think about how many jobs require strong writing skills, even if it isn’t the main focus of the role. Or consider how often you come across job postings listing “leadership skills” as a requirement. This is why transferable skills are important—they show what you have to offer beyond just completing daily tasks.

“Highlighting transferable skills on a resume is a quick way for employers to see what you bring to the table and how it aligns with the roles you’re applying to,” Owens says. “This is especially true if a company is using key search words when looking for candidates.”

They can also open doors for less experienced job seekers. “It can add some valuable subtext that may help you compensate for lack of direct experience and differentiate you from the competition. And in today’s competitive market, that subtext can make or break you landing an interview,” Owens says.

Transferable skills: Examples

Not sure what skills to showcase? Here are 10 examples of transferable skills to include on your resume—feel free to incorporate them into your cover letter or job application as well. Just remember, while these are relevant and common skills, you shouldn’t feel restricted by them. Use this list as a guide to identify these and other valuable abilities you already have—or intend to develop.

1. Languages

Speaking a second or third language is a transferable skill that comes in handy across many professions, from customer service to data analysis. Workplaces are getting more diverse than ever, especially in large companies. And this diversity isn’t just about the employees they hire; it also includes the people they serve, thanks to the internet making international businesses more accessible.

2. Writing

Writing is one of the most common and useful transferable skills out there: Countless job postings require some form of writing on a daily basis. Whether it’s sending emails, interacting with customers on social media, or preparing presentations for clients—the possibilities are endless.

3. Research

Can you gather, understand, and use data effectively? The ability to research, often acquired in school, is another transferable skill with applications across several industries—from finance (i.e. financial analysis) to marketing (i.e. user research and customer analysis). Putting this skill on your resume is strategic because being a good researcher involves a diverse set of skills, such as data collection, documentation, and writing.

4. Excel proficiency

Some people have a love-hate relationship with spreadsheets. But the truth is, they’re an indispensable tool to many businesses—whether it’s keeping track of an inventory or managing employee shifts in a restaurant. That’s why Excel proficiency is considered a transferable skill, if it makes sense with the jobs you’re seeking, it’s definitely worth adding to your resume.

5. Data entry

Data entry involves processing, filling up, and updating information, typically within a private system or spreadsheet (yep—Excel again!). Some professions and professional settings that typically require data entry include inventory management, e-commerce, transcription, accounting, and bookkeeping.

6. Management

Every company or organization needs someone with management skills and experience. Managers are typically the ones responsible for assigning tasks, ensuring that everything is carried out as intended, and providing guidance to employees who need assistance.

7. Leadership

Leadership skills are also highly valued by employers, particularly in professional environments where initiative and self-management are crucial. People with strong leadership abilities are generally good communicators, critical thinkers, and have an easy time delegating tasks and taking calculated risks.

8. Administrative support

Administrative skills encompass a range of abilities, including scheduling tasks, meetings and appointments, data collection and entry, answering emails, organizing employee paperwork, and managing office supplies. These skills are transferable across any type of industry or company. For instance, a secretary at a marketing company relies on these skills as much as a receptionist at a dental clinic does.

9. Project coordination

If you have experience planning, managing, and executing projects, then you have a transferable skill known as project coordination. While it’s similar to leadership skills, project coordination is slightly more focused. Instead of leading a group of people, it involves successfully bringing a project together and turning it into reality.

10. Training

Having training skills means that you can provide clear instructions to teach a process or procedure to others. If you’re applying for a managerial position, for instance, this is an important skill to have, as you’ll likely be tasked with training new staff members in entry-level positions or interns.

How do you write transferable skills on a CV?

The skills section of a resume can be your best friend. However, every transferable skill listed there should be somehow linked to your experiences.

“I always recommend adding a ‘Skills’ section using your transferable skills as a base,” Owens advises. “Just make sure to justify those transferable skills by tying them to ways you’ve added value to your jobs in your resume’s ‘Experience’ section.”

Meaning that if you mention leadership skills, at least one of your experiences should illustrate how and where this skill was used, as well as the outcome of your actions.

For example:

Professional Experience

Company for devs

Web Developer, January 2021—November 2023

  • Led the development of SEO strategies for two websites, achieving an increase of 15% in the lead conversion rate

Company for devs

Marketing Analyst, June 2019—December 2020

  • Led and executed Google Analytics tracking campaigns to maximize the effectiveness of the re-marketing initiative, achieving a 10% increase in total sales

Relevant skills

HTML

CSS

Javascript

Data analysis

Leadership

Project coordination

Transferable skills vs soft skills: what’s the difference?

Many people confuse transferable skills with soft skills—after all, they’re both useful in any profession setting. However, there’s a distinct difference between the two.

“Transferable skills are measurable strengths or areas of expertise,” Owens says. “On the other hand, soft skills are interpersonal attributes—generalities that don’t speak to your ability to do a job, but could determine how you interact with others, process information, and the kind of environment you feel productive in. For example, collaboration, problem solving skills, effective time management.”

Depending on your level of experience or the role you’re applying for, it’s wise to list both your transferable skills and soft skills. Candidates writing a resume with no experience could benefit from highlighting any set of abilities and interpersonal attributes learned and developed in college, personal, or community projects.