Transferable Skills

Some of the things that we can do that we don’t even think about can make us more appealing to employers. Transferable skills are all of those little personal traits, habits, and “life-hacks” that we accumulate throughout our lives. You know, the bullet points in your resume that you had to pick from a pool of generic descriptive words? As the easiest items to generate for an interview, they are also the hardest points to spin into something that sounds impressive. Let’s face it, who isn’t going to say that their organized, hard-working, a team player, creative, and helpful in the workplace? In order to make these points presentable, and maybe come up with a few you hadn’t thought of, it helps to understand that the majority of these transferable skills can be divided into social, organizational, technical, and leadership skills.

Social skills are essentially made up of two things: How you are in dealing with people, and how effectively you can communicate thoughts and ideas (some may just call these communication skills). With regards to how you are with people, are you a people-person? Are you able to sympathize with the issues people have? Do you spend a large portion of your time comfortably in the presence of other human beings? Needless to say, this is a big plus. But it will become evident if you’re lying later on in the job. Communication skills, on the other hand, refer to things like literacy and articulation. Can you write? Can you read (if not, I’m surprised you made it this far down the page)? Are you able to explain how something works in a way that someone who’s unfamiliar can pick it up and understand it? Again, pretty basic stuff. For every social skill you pick, it might help to have a story for each one.

Organizational skills are a big one, but I’d have to say that the two most important ones would have to be time management and ability to meet deadlines. Both of which are fairly nuanced and are predicated by many other essential skills. Can you keep yourself from losing things? Do you check your messages regularly? Do you get back to the people who’ve messaged you in a timely fashion? Are you able to delegate your work time and personal time effectively? These skills have more to do with your own personal habits than anything that is necessary taught to you. Be prepared to give examples of the way you keep yourself organized if and when you’re asked.

Technical skills are practical skills that display the means in which you get your work done as well as what kind of work you can get done. Can you use Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.)? Can you use the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, etc.)? Can you edit video or audio files? Do you know how to operate a forklift? Any and all types of productive industrial know-how that you have fits here.

Lastly, leadership skills. If you’ve never been in a management position, this may be one of the hardest categories to brainstorm for. But even if that’s the case, try and think of qualities that make a good leader that you’d say you have. Are you able to consider multiple options and come to a decision quickly? Do you step up when a volunteer is needed? Do people value your opinion and look to you for guidance in ambiguous situations? Some good places to draw on for leadership examples can be things like roles in a scout group, team sports, or even large group projects in school. Some leaders are born, the rest are forged by circumstance.

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