Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee

How to Identify Your Transferable Skills

Career advice

How to identify your transferable skills

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • What are Transferable Skills
  • How to identify my transferable skills

One of the most common concerns of people facing career transitions is the fear that they lack the necessary skills for their desired career. Many people tend to think of their abilities as one-sided, only applicable to the type of work they’ve always done. And that makes sense - they’ve never seen their skills applied in any other way.

This concern is why coaches focus on revealing their client’s transferable skills - the abilities and skills you already have, which you’ll bring with you to the next stage of your career.

What are Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are qualities, abilities, and experiences that we develop throughout our life that contribute to our success, and they don’t always come exclusively from work. They may come from hobbies, school projects, volunteer work, freelancing and other areas.

To help uncover your transferable skills, ask yourself: What do people come to you for? What are you good at? How can these abilities help in a different situation? It may require some imagination and some research, but it’s likely that you’re not as far from your next career as you think.

Recently, Coach Jeanne Bohen stopped by the Exclusive Career Coaching Podcast with Lesa Edwardsto talk about the concept of transferable skills and how people can identify which ones apply to them

Jeanne and Lesa talk about some of the most universal skills, different ways people come to their careers, and the surprising way that a nurse can prove their sales abilities.

How to identify my transferable skills

In addition to listening to the podcast, here are some other ways you can identify your own transferable skills.

  • Write down a list of specific tasks that you have done at previous jobs, hobbies, or volunteer work. Underneath each one, write down the special skills or abilities that were required to do this task. Ask yourself, “why was I good at this?”

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  • Take a look at the skills listed in job ads and ask how you can demonstrate each one. For example, if you see “problem-solving skills” pop up a lot, try to see how you could demonstrate having that skill - how have you solved problems?

  • Use tools like the CareerOneStop Skills Matcher and mySkills myFuture to create a list of your skills and match them to careers that use those skills in O*NET.

With a little effort and imagination, it’s easy to figure out what skills and abilities you can offer - even in fields you’ve never worked in before. You can use this knowledge to ease the transition to your new career like getting a job in a non-profit or applying for a federal job.

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee has over 25 years of human resource, outplacement, and career coaching experience. He is also an industrial/organizational psychologist and a certified retirement coach.  Raymond has contributed to SHRM, ATD, and other publications on the topics of the future of work, employee experience and offboarding, ageism and bias in the workplace, and career fulfillment. 

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