Transferable Skills: The Secret to getting hired.

As of July, over 1.8 million* Canadians are still looking for work. Perhaps your sector or industry has been hit particularly hard by the global pandemic or maybe you see this as an opportunity to switch careers or move within your organization. Transferable Skills are your key to unlocking new job opportunities.

What are Transferable Skills?

“Transferable Skills are any skills you possess that are useful to employers across various jobs and industries. These might include skills like adaptability, organization, teamwork or other qualities employers seek in strong candidates. Transferable Skills can be used to position your past experience when applying for a new job—especially if it’s in a different industry.”

What are the top ten Transferable Skills?

  • Decision-making – Demonstrating your ability to weight options, consider pros and cons and make decisive choices.
  • Multitasking – Multitasking has taken a bad rap lately, but being able to manage numerous projects and prioritizing them is an invaluable skill. The skill is in prioritizing and focusing to ensure you provide quality.
  • Creative problem-solving – Solving problems with unique solutions is paramount in unprecedented times. An “out of the box” thinker is in high demand.
  • Collaboration – Teamwork, working with others is a necessity.
  • Communication – Verbal and written skills are need for every job and the better you are at communicating your ideas and listening to others, the further you will go in your career.
  • Professionalism – regardless of the job you are applying for, professionalism and being professional while on the job is imperative.
  • Integrity – Your integrity is your word. Ensure your references are able to use examples to demonstrate this skill.
  • Management – The transferable skill of managing does just apply if you have direct reports. Managing includes your colleagues and supervisors or managing your projects and workloads.
  • Initiative – Taking initiative demonstrates that you are a self-starter who doesn’t need a lot of supervision to get the work done.
  • Empathy – Empathy is often an overlooked skill. Being able to understand another’s feelings within a situation and provide counsel and support is important to building rapport with your colleagues and clients.

Where can you highlight your Transferable Skills?

Consider including your transferable skills on your resume, cover letter, in your interview and in your online profiles. Review the job description and make note of the hard and soft skills required.


On your resume, there are several options when deciding where to include key transferable skills. You can list transferable skills on your resume in the following sections:

  • Resume summary or objective
  • Employment history descriptions
  • Skills list

Cover letter

Your cover letter needs to tell a story about you and highlight one or two skills. Again, review the job description and decide which skills to use. Describe a situation where you’ve used these skills in the past.


During your interview, use examples of when you’ve used relevant transferable skills to answer your interviewer’s questions, if applicable. Remember to “show” instead of “tell” when you can, providing specific stories of when you used your skills successfully.

When you seek new employment opportunities, you will find that many of your current skills, like interpersonal skills, are transferable to new employers.

Online profiles

Whether it’s LinkedIn, Indeed or an ATS, you often have the ability to include your soft skills.

Here are five steps to show employers you have transferable skills:

  1. Be explicit how your skills transfer to the new role – don't expect the employer to do it for you. You can do this by:
    • You have the skill you claim
    • You understand how the skill is useful to the new industry or role
    • You can show how you would apply that skill to the new industry or role
  2. Get tangible proof… By researching the new role or industry in-depth, you prove you are willing to put in the work. Even better, take classes and have assignments to show. Volunteer in the new role or industry and offer some work samples.
  3. Get social proof…Referrals can go a long way to convince employers to take their chances on career changers. You will need to do some exhaustive research into your new role or industry. Thus, you will need to talk to people who are active in the field and win them over.
  4. Prioritize person-to-person communication. Sharing tangible examples, making a case, and getting introduced to the recruiter or potential employer relies on your network and person to person communications.
  5. Minimize old career jargon and buzzwords in self marketing. In order to help potential employers see you in your new career, take out jargon that point to your old career.

Whether it’s out of necessity or professional growth, a career change can make sense for you. Leveraging your transferable skills will help you compete in the job market and may set you a part as a flexible alternative.



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