3 Ways To Develop Transferable Skills


This blog post was written by Donna Moores

The chances are that you have heard of the term transferable skills. It has been circulating in the business jargon for quite some time now. Transferable skills mean skills that you have developed in one setting and can transfer to another. Setting, in the context of business, usually refers to your workplace. In other words, you develop certain skills at your current company that you will be able to transfer to a new company in the future.

Some people consider transferable skills to be generic or soft skills. What makes them soft skills is that you can apply them across industries or careers. As such they are skills that you should focus on when looking for a new job or asking for a promotion. Transferable skills can make the difference between success and failure.

Skills such as leadership are highly transferable and can have a strong impact on results. Developing transferable skills is also a good way to stand out from others in fields where most employees possess more or less similar hard skills.  

Here are 3 ways that you can develop your transferable skills:

1. Become a better leader

The term comes in many definitions. No consensus exists on a general definition, but it’s possible to identify certain characteristics. First of all, leadership derives from social influence, and it’s not about power or authority. It involves a certain goal and requires other people but no specific personality characteristics.

To develop leadership skills, you should try to ask for new responsibilities. Practice is what makes you perfect. It’s the only way to demonstrate to your employer that you can lead other people and achieve desired results. Once you have acquired a decent track record, it becomes easier to showcase your abilities.

No one wants to hear the term proactive anymore, right? Fair enough, the term has been seriously overused. Yet, in the case of developing leadership skills, the need to be proactive rings true. To acquire these skills, you need to take the initiative and obtain a more active role in supporting others.

Make sure, however, that you’re not just focusing on yourself. As mentioned in our earlier post about improving your leadership skills, being a good leader is all about teamwork and involving others. Encourage teamwork and remember to respect and value each of your team members.

2. Keep a record of your accomplishments

Has it ever happened to you that you find yourself sitting in a job interview or performance review where your potential employer or supervisor is asking about your achievements, and your mind goes blank? It can be surprisingly hard to remember everything or even a fraction of the things that you have achieved in a period of one year or more. What’s the solution then? Consider keeping a log of all the projects and tasks that you’re working on, and update it regularly. Recalling your achievements will become child’s play.

Keeping a record of your accomplishments will help you identify your transferable skills more easily. It also allows you to excel in interviews since you have a list of accomplishments written down. The only things left for you is to choose which achievements you want to highlight and pick the ones that bring out the best of you. Keep in mind that skills developed outside the office can be just as valuable.

It’s not unusual, however, that writing things down and formulating them in the best possible light is not your forte. And that’s fine; there are plenty of resources and tools that can make it easier for you. If you feel like your resume could use some editing, you might want to check the following:

  • ProWritingAid - a writing tool that includes a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor.

  • Grammarly - a software that helps writers proofread their texts and detect mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, style and word choice.

  • Handmadewritings - a website that provides editing and writing services for a variety of topics.

  • Grammar Girl - a popular writing blog on the Quick and Dirty Tips website and podcast network that is helping people to do things better, including offering tips on how to improve your writing.

3. Communicate better

Communication is the key. Imagine how many mistakes you could avoid if there was a way to prevent poor communication between people. Having the ability to listen to others is essential since communication is not only about making yourself heard. The great thing about communication is that it’s important in every role of the company, regardless of the field, and that’s also what makes it an ideal transferable skill.

Most of us communicate every day without even thinking about it. How to hone your communication skills then? Well, it’s possible to make a conscious effort to listen to your colleagues and process the information that you receive before focusing on what you’re going to say. Give them full attention when they’re talking to you, keep eye contact, and show that you have understood them. Listening, an integral part of communication, is an overlooked leadership tool that has a lot of potential.

You might have noticed that there’s a connection between these three approaches. To be a good leader, you must learn how to communicate effectively and listen to your colleagues. It’s also a useful practice for leaders to keep a record of their skills and accomplishments, and formulating these skills and accomplishments requires good communication skills.

You could try these approaches to develop your transferable skills and see what kind of impact they have on your success at the workplace. They are relatively easy to implement and don’t require any strong commitment. Since you already master the hard skills in your field, it’s time to turn your attention to the soft, transferable skills that might just the make the difference between success and failure.