Identifying Transferable Skills
Exploring and Evaluating Career Choice: Identifying Transferable Skills
Give yourself credit for the breadth and depth of your skills.
Being competitive in any job market includes understanding how your past experience relates to the positions you are currently pursuing and will pursue in the future. Presenting examples of your best work and accomplishments readily helps prospective employers see how you can apply your occupation- and functional-specific skills to meet their needs. Use these prompts to help you recognize and present your skills effectively:
Know Your Story
What are your first thoughts about what you do best? Make a list that is a working document, a list you can continue to add to.
List your accomplishments (from your work history to extracurricular activities; for new graduates, write down your leadership positions in college organizations).
List examples of work and note the value of each example to current and past organizations, within and beyond the scope of your position. Think of as many examples as possible that you would like prospective employers to know about. If you are a new or recent graduate, consider any on-campus leadership and/or community service experiences that you may still wish to include; for highly experienced professionals, consider what you have done in the last five to eight years as likely the most relevant work examples for your next move. Earlier experience may be summarized.
- Begin working on the Translating Your Experience Into Transferable Skills (PDF) exercise to prompt your assessment of stories and skills. Continue this exercise as you review the content of these pages.
- View the Identify Your Transferable Skills (PDF) information page for reminders of categories and specific transferable skills.
Identify Your Skills
Write about your examples; describe them so that you have a portfolio of stories to select from when applying for specific positions and preparing for interviews.
As you review your stories, which are your favorites? Are you seeing patterns of skills that you used in many, or all, of the examples? These are your motivated skills, skills you use well and also enjoy using. It's in your best interest to have job targets in which you will be able to emphasize your motivated skills, as well as learn new skills.
- Complete the Apply Your Transferable Skills to Your Work Accomplishments (PDF) exercises and Transferable Skills in Context (PDF) sheet to bring out your professional profile and the breadth of your talents.
- Complete the Job Analysis Worksheet (PDF) to complement your profile with that of your job target(s).
- Talk with friends, former colleagues or a career counselor to express your stories fully and to find help with naming
- Use the list of selected functional/transferable skills (PDF) for help in identifying your strong analytical, communication, organizational, interpersonal and creative skills from your writing and your discussions. Complete the instructions on that page of skills to determine your motivated skills.
Transfer Your Skills Into New Roles
Job postings are excellent sources to compare with your self-assessment of skills. As you look at postings, “try on” the job using your stories and identified and motivated skills; begin addressing how you can meet what the employer is looking for.
Match and transfer your occupational and functional skills to the key qualifications needed in the jobs you are applying for.
Confirm your self-assessment and how your skills and experiences transfer by conducting informational interviews with people who are already doing the kind of work you desire to do.
Update and refine your resume for the job you have targeted; write in new bullet points that match the qualifications, if those updates are necessary.
- Use The Seminary Club directory to identify alumni networking contacts in targeted fields, industries and occupations.
- Continue to practice talking about your stories with friends, former colleagues and career advisers to prepare for interviews, and to verify that your best professional qualifications are included on your resume, in your cover letters and in your networking sound byte.
- “What Should I Do With My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question” by Po Bronson