Transferable skills, your most valuable asset!

Continuing our series of getting the expert opinion from leading recruiters, this week we ask Julia Purcell of Sigmar Recruitment ( to provide tips on ‘developing transferable skills’ for anyone on the look-out for a new job.  Here’s what she said:

“So you’re just out of college, going through a career change, or perhaps just trying to find a new job. First off, accept that previous job skills won’t fully match the skills you’ll need for the new job – don’t despair, a candidate cannot possibly possess every skill the job spec outlines.

This is where transferable skills come in. Employers aren’t just looking for bright sparks, but for people who can function effectively and adapt to a role. Transferable skills are job capabilities that add value to diverse working environments, rather than being specific to one given organisation.

Below are the key transferable skills that you should develop to assist with your career progression.”

  • Communication Skills;

Good communication skills come down to how effectively you translate ideas and facts into understandable terms on paper and verbally. Also how well you can listen to others and understand what they are attempting to communicate.  If you took part in group projects, wrote reports, gave presentations, use them to demonstrate your excellent communication skills.

  • Management Skills;

Effective leadership and management skills are a prospective employer’s dream duo. These skills are about directing and motivating others to achieve individual, team and company goals, overseeing projects and making decisions. Have you held a supervisory position or oversaw a project? Or even captained a sports team or been a chairperson of a local committee? If so, relate the position to responsibilities and traits associated with management.

  • Interpersonal skills;

Describe your ability to motivate colleagues to perform better or how you dealt with conflict between team members.  Also if you ever worked in a customer service role, describe how you interacted with customers. 

  • Research skills

If you’re a recent graduate you have plenty of examples of research skills from all the assignments and projects you completed. If you’re not a recent graduate, give examples of specific projects you undertook, how you set goals, gathered information and analysed, interpreted and disseminated information.

  • Self management skills

So how do you manage your time and organise your priorities? How do you set goals, meet deadlines? How do you cope with stress and pressure?

  • Adaptability

How well can you cope with change?  If you held more than one job, you can describe your flexibility. Even with one job you can indicate how you adapted to new roles.

  • Creative thinking and problem solving skills

Think about jobs you’ve held where you faced problems and came up with brilliant solutions.

How do you develop transferable skills?

If you have a job put yourself forward for team assignments: you can build on your interpersonal skills, or volunteer as team leader for group assignments to improve your management and organisational skills.

If you’re unemployed, relate your personal life to these skills.  Keep up teamwork skills by joining sports teams; develop your speaking and presentation skills by joining a debating club. You can also develop your skills through volunteer work, or going on a training course.

Remember, your specialised knowledge may get you an interview, but it is those important skills we tend to overlook which will enable you to demonstrate your suitability for that job.

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