How to Leverage Transferable Skills In Your Job Search

by Guest Author,  Frankie Wallace

Are you considering a career change or embarking on a job search to find your first “real” job?

Highlighting your transferable skills in your resume, cover letter, and interview is essential if you want the best chance at landing your next role. But what exactly are transferable skills?

Definition of Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are skills that you can transfer to any role in any industry. For example, data analysis, communication, and marketing are transferable skills.

It’s important to note that transferable skills can be hard or soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and learned through education, training, or hands-on experience. HTML, blockchain, and foreign languages are great examples of hard skills.

On the other hand, soft skills are less quantifiable and more about how you work and interact with people. For example, active listening, interpersonal skills, and time management are soft skills.

Now, let’s look at how you can incorporate transferable skills in your resume and cover letter.

How to Incorporate Transferable Skills on Your Resume and in Your Cover Letter

First, it’s important to understand why you want to transition to a new job, what you learned from your past positions, and what you want to do career-wise moving forward. Exploring these three things will help you pinpoint what job role to pursue next.

It will also help you determine what skills you already have that you can easily transfer to your new role and those you should include on your resume and cover letter.

The following are also essential for incorporating transferable skills in your resume and cover letter:

Highlight experiences outside of work

Not all skills come from work experiences. Nor do they need to. You can learn transferable skills in various ways. Don’t think you can’t include those skills learned outside of work on your resume and in your cover letter.

Highlighting experiences outside of work is a brilliant way to incorporate transferable skills into your resume and cover letter.

Include them on your resume if you’ve ever volunteered, played sports, had high-level academic achievements, or had personal experiences that led to leveling up transferable skills like problem-solving, relationship-building, or computer skills.

You can then talk about these experiences more in-depth in your cover letter to solidify how what you’ve learned through them can benefit the company and the role you’re applying for.

Include language from the job description

Tailoring your resume and cover letter to each job you’re applying for is necessary. This is
because you’ll have a better chance at:

1. Getting through any applicant tracking system filters
2. Catching the hiring manager’s eye

Tailoring your resume and cover letter to each job is best done by using language from the job description in both. Don’t be afraid to use exact words.

Using language from the job description will also help you better explain your transferable skills in relation to what the company is asking for. For example, if the job description calls for excellent written and verbal communication skills, you can talk about how you developed these things in your last role in your cover letter.

Ultimately, including language from the job description helps convince the hiring manager that you know what the company needs and can provide it.

Ways to Demonstrate Transferable Skills In Person

There are also ways to demonstrate your transferable skills in person. Here are two tips for
doing so effectively:

Make a good first impression

First impressions set the tone for an interview. When things start right, it’s easier to keep them that way for the interview length. On the other hand, if an interview doesn’t start well, it’s challenging to get that bad first impression out of your and the interviewer’s mind.

So, make it a point to put forth a solid first impression. Demonstrate your transferable skills in it too. For example, if you’ve been adamant about your professionalism in your resume and cover letter, show it in the way you dress for the interview.

Or let’s say you’ve highlighted leadership skills in your resume and cover letter. In that case, greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and eye contact. Answer questions with honesty and integrity. And bring thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer.

Your first impression is also your first opportunity to demonstrate the value of your transferable skills.

Practice talking about your transferable skills

The interviewer will likely ask why you feel like you’re a good fit for the position and the
company. They’re also going to bring up your skillset, especially if you don’t have exactly what they’re looking for.

You must know how to talk about your transferable skills in a poised, professional way. Doing this not only shows actual transferable skills like effective communication, critical thinking, and attention to detail, but it also shows the interviewer you’ve done your homework on the role and the company.

Practice your answer to why you feel like you’re the best person for the role. In addition,
rehearse how you will convince the interviewer you can do what they’re asking, even if you’ve never worked in a similar position or the industry.


Experts say that we will have a dozen jobs in our lifetime. And we’re going to learn a lot from all of them. Taking everything you learned in the last role to the next role is how you truly succeed.

When you know how to talk about your skillset and experience to show the company you’re the right match for the job, you have a better chance at actually landing it.

So, use the tips above to incorporate your transferable skills in your resume and cover letter and demonstrate them effectively in person.


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About the author

Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys writing about career guidance and education but occasionally goes back to her roots with socially active news journalism. Frankie spends her free time cultivating her zero-waste garden or hiking in the mountains of the PNW with her loved ones.

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