When considering a career change, and planning your transition, our fear of not having the right qualifications can sometimes stop us chasing our dreams. It pays to remember though that all employers need the same foundational attributes and functional skills in their employees. This applies in all industries and workplaces, no matter how big a team, no matter how technical the product or process. Those attributes are known as ‘transferable skills’. So, let me provide you with 3 key tips for showcasing your transferable skills so you can make that career change a reality.

Over the years I have successfully changed careers several times and know how daunting it can be when you’re unsure what employers in your new industry are looking for. Identifying and showcasing your transferable skills is key. Presenting them in a way that stands out from the crowd ensures that your future employer can quickly and easily see that you have the skills needed for a seamless transition. The 3 key ways to showcase these skill – in your CV, in your cover letter and in the interview. Lets look at each of these ways in more depth.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are those that have been gained through a variety of experiences and are not always job-related or specific. For example, communication or team building skills can be built up through hobbies, sports, education or voluntary activities.

Emphasising these types of skills can be especially useful when you are preparing a CV or application form for a job outside of your comfort zone. You may not have job-specific examples to fall back on but knowing what your transferable skills are and making the most of them to standout to a future employer can take your application to the next level.

Little girl looking at mathematical equations on a board, transferable skill

Some Common Transferable Skills:

  • Dependability
  • Leadership and team management
  • Problem-solving
  • Data analysis
  • Communication – written and oral
  • Time management
  • Organisation
  • Financial organisation
  • Project management
  • IT skills
  • Creativity

How do you identify your skills?

Many people, especially those who are returning to the workplace after a long period away, find it difficult to identify the skills they have built up through being a stay at home parent or being in education. But there are so many skills that each of us take for granted. We all make hundreds of small decisions every day, we all complete tasks and we all talk, write and listen to others. There are 3 skills right there!

You need to be clear about what your transferable skills are. Only then, can you really think about showcasing them.

But to be more specific, let’s imagine that you have been in full-time education studying for a Masters degree. It is likely you could demonstrate the skills listed above plus a few others. What about IT skills? What software did you use to do your research and write your essays? Microsoft Office, Google Sheets, internet search engines, research software, video – the list is endless. Do not dismiss any of them as irrelevant or too simple.

Identifying YOUR skills

So, try this:

  • Write down all the activities you do during the day as a student, as a home-maker or if you’re currently in employment.
  • Identify the skills, abilities or experience you needed to conduct that activity. Really go to the basics. For example, doing the weekly shop needs organisation, financial awareness, calculations about how much space you have for the things you’re going to buy, product selection – the list goes on. It all counts and its all a useable skill. You just don’t realise it because it becomes automatic.
  • List all the skills, abilities or experience you identify along with some examples of how you use that skill or ability.
  • Keep the list and use it to select the appropriate transferable skills and experience examples for any job you’re applying for.

Research your desired industry

The key to a successful CV or job application is to match it as closely as possible with what the employer is looking for. If you are already in a particular industry, you will probably already be able to make an educated guess without too much work.

However, changing careers is going to require a little investigation. You have identified all of your transferable skills so now you need to select the skills that are going to be the best match for your new path. Once you know that, you will know which ones to highlight and identify any gaps so you can address those. There are several ways to do this:

  • Read job advertisements posted by employers in your chosen field.
  • Approach someone in your chosen field to act as a  mentor
  • Research and subscribe to industry-related publications.
  • Look into voluntary opportunities to fill any gaps in your transferable skills list.
  • See if your current employment offers any opportunities to enhance your transferable skills.

So once you have identified your best transferable skills, how are you going to showcase them to any future employer in your chosen field?

There are 3 main opportunities in the recruitment process for showcasing your transferable skills:


Opening statement

You need to spend some time on this. It is the first thing your future employer will read and may be the deciding factor in whether they read any more. It is not the place to list all the transferable skills but it is crucial to highlight the most important ones.

Skills Section

Having already identified the most applicable and important transferable skills for your chosen industry, make sure to highlight them here. Make it easy for them to see that you have the skills they need.

Under previous job roles

Where you have used your transferable skills in previous roles, make sure to mention them again.

Cover Letter

Give examples of how your skills could translate – the cover letter is a fantastic tool especially for those changing careers. In cases where your specific experience may be lacking, it is imperative that you take every opportunity to highlight what you are bringing to the table and how it can be applied in the new role.

Cover letters serve a specific purpose. If the CV shows what you have done in the past, the cover letter is your opportunity to talk about what you can do in the future. Show yourself, show who you are and showcase those transferable skills.


So, you have made your list of transferable skills. You have highlighted them in your CV and cover letter and your hard work has resulted in an interview! Well done! Now, the important thing to concentrate on is demonstrating how those transferable skills can be transferred to your new career. Examples of what you have done and how you have used those skills are great but to really stand out from the crowd, take one step further. When you do your interview preparation, rehearse examples of how you have used your skills in the past, but think of (and rehearse) ways to show the interviewer how you would use those skills in a new career too.

Financial management as a transferable skill

For example:

You currently work in finance and you want to change career into book editing.

The interviewer asks you to give an example of when you have managed change.

You give a great example of when a new process for dealing with invoices payable was brought in at your current company. You describe how some of your colleagues were resistant to the new system and you had to smooth the transition.

Great answer!

But then you could add in that you read in an industry magazine that the book editing business is going through some upheaval. Highlighting your own experience of managing change in your current role would be very useful here.

Make it even easier for the prospective employer to see how your transferable skills could benefit them.

So, try these 3 key tips for showcasing your transferable skills. See how they can help you ease your transition from one career to the next. Do let us know in the Comments how you get on or if you have any questions about this.

If you enjoyed this post, why not try this one on How to Write a CV with No Employment History.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *