What is Transferable Skills? Definition, Examples, How to Recognize

Transferable skills are the skills that professionals can use in all job roles, irrespective of the industry or job title.

Employers usually look for certain fundamental transferable skills in candidates before hiring. It is vital to mention your transferable skills in your cover letter and resume since they can be assets in any job. They prove to be useful whether your new job position belongs to the same industry (in which you’ve already worked) or not.

Typically, transferable skills are regarded as “portable skills”. These skills can apply to different job positions, and they are generic. You can employ these general skills in diverse industries, working environments, and fields.

You can interpret the transferable skills meaning as the skills that are useful and might be essential to accomplish a wide range of jobs. Any skill can be considered transferable if you master it in a context (for example, school, workplace, as a volunteer, etc.) and then can use the same in multiple job environments.

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Transferable skills are occasionally referred to as generic skills, life skills, basic skills, key qualifications, essential competencies, and employability skills. All these aspects signify that the skills are not specific to a particular job but will be helpful in various jobs and industries.

Certain transferable skills are generic, for example, computer proficiency or fluency in the English language. Certain transferable skills are quite specific and demand knowledge of a specific industry. 

Examples of Transferable Skills

Let’s go through some of the prominent examples of transferable skills.

1) Communication skills

Communication is integral to all industries and job positions. The transferable skills meaning implies that you need to have effective communication skills to ensure the smooth functioning of your assigned job role.

These skills help you to share your ideas, important information, announcements, etc., in an easy-to-understandable form. There are possibilities of misunderstanding and even a loss to the business if the employees don’t have proper communication skills.

It is a two-way process that involves active listening and speaking. Regular practice or joining an online/offline communication training class can help you improve your communication skills.

 The relevant transferable skills examples are oral, written, interpersonal, non-verbal, listening, public speaking, presentation, relationship-building, rapport-building, negotiation power, conflict resolution, etc. This genre of skill is best suited for careers like Business Analytics, which requires technical and communication skills to bridge the gap between technical and business domains. 

2) Management skills

At first glance, it may seem that these transferable skills require an in-depth understanding of management and business aspects. However, this is just a myth. These skills focus on effectively managing your assigned project and responsibilities in your job role. It also covers people management, project management, action planning, and time management.

The relevant transferable skills examples include dispute handling, finance management, budgeting, logistic skills, recruitment, organization skills, risk management, etc. Management skills are best suited for people who wish to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration degree, enabling them to emerge as industry leaders. 

3) Teamwork

It is recommended to put in the best effort an employee can get the desired outcomes. However, the overall organization’s efficiency significantly depends on the efficiency of teamwork. At the workplace, your professional duties may involve certain complexities that you may not solve alone. Working in a team can effectively tackle those complexities in less time.

Many job roles demand employees work in a team to achieve the intended business outcome. Demonstrating your abilities to work with colleagues and teammates can increase your chances of getting hired. Teamwork demands that you work humbly and efficiently with other team members whose areas of expertise, background, and responsibilities differ from yours. Team building is a leading skill used in project management, requiring superior teamwork in all endeavors.

4) Leadership

Leadership requires that you inspire the confidence of others and make the team believe you are working towards their success. In most of the cases, leadership skill is a versatile quality that is transferable between industries. Honing leadership abilities is a prerequisite for pushing shared objectives and company goals towards accomplishment within an organization. 

5) Analytical skills

Two key motives of any business are to fulfill customers’ demands and solve their problems. An organization can be called reliable if it helps people solve problems in less time. Problem-solving skills are subsets of analytical skills. Analytical skills are one of the most valuable transferable skills.

Essentially, it is hard to find any job that doesn’t prioritize these skills when recruiting the workforce. The reason is those professionals who can think analytically and derive solutions to problems are the ones who contribute to business growth.

These skills include brainstorming, conceptual thinking, creativity, metrics and data interpretation, data mining, data diagnostics, reporting, forecasting, research, troubleshooting, etc. Software development is a field that actively requires talented professionals with analytical skills.  

6) Listening

Any business can work flawlessly only if its workforce has effective speaking and listening skills. Being proficient only at public speaking will not help. The reason is the employees need to attentively listen and understand the client’s problems before working on the solution. If they are not good listeners, they may not thoroughly understand speakers’ opinions, which will be a major communication gap.

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7) Adaptability

Adaptability skills are one of the most valuable transferable skills when it comes to flexibility in changing job environments. These skills focus on easily getting accustomed to the changing job environments and effectively handling the challenges at new job positions. The need for a job change will arise after every few years. The employees can’t accept the new job environment and challenges without adaptability skills.

Adaptability skills involve adjusting to changing workflow, due dates, and job responsibilities. They also involve the ability to learn new skills in the new job position quickly. Following their rapid growth, domains such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence seek adaptable employees who can easily adapt to the changing tech trends. 

8) Networking

One of the major building blocks of any company is relationships. Effectively networking with different professionals, colleagues, clients, departments, etc., help a business make more profit. Employers focus on these transferable skills because they want to make sure the candidates they hire will be able to build and manage the relationship at their workplace and will streamline achieving their business goals. Job profiles such as HR management seek networking skills the most in their applicants.

9) Technical skills

These transferable skills don’t focus on core technical skills specific only to a particular job. Instead, it focuses on certain common technical skills that will apply to almost all job roles regardless of the industry. Technology innovation occurs swiftly, and it is therefore vital to quickly acquire certain technical skills demanded in almost all job positions.

The corresponding examples include database management, social media, Office Suites, IT skills, typing, knowledge of web fundamentals (SEO, HTML, CSS, etc.), equipment installation and configuration, equipment maintenance, etc.

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How to recognize your Transferable Skills?

You may not know what transferable skills you have acquired unless you step back and examine how you worked in a particular job position.

The best transferable skills you can incorporate in your job applications are the ones you possess and the ones the employer is actively seeking for the position. You must look carefully at the job description and identify your transferable skills. Doing these things helps you to know the skills the employers want.

For example, if an employer is looking for analytical skills, you can demonstrate your research, troubleshooting, and data interpretation abilities. You need to identify your transferable skills and mention some that resemble the job description. This approach will increase your chances of getting hired.

You can ask the following questions to yourself to identify your transferable skills.

  • Did I learn new technologies and tools?
  • Did I help the company to fulfill its objectives?
  • Did I work effectively in the team and contribute to the organization’s profit?
  • What was the positive and negative feedback regarding my work performance?
  • Did I communicate effectively and effectively manage my job responsibilities?

Strengthen your Transferrable skills with upGrad 

Opting for the right course can help you achieve better transferable skills throughout its entirety. One such course is the Advanced Certificate in Digital Marketing and Communication by upGrad. Offered under the leading higher education institute MICA, this course will help you connect with industry professionals to seek advice, work on live projects and interact with experts to clear further build your skills.


It is inevitable to develop transferable skills not just because they are valid in almost all industries but because they are lasting. These skills will help you throughout your career, whatever field you choose. They play a significant role in keeping you employable in any job and industry. They can help you land a high-paying job, although your skillset doesn’t completely match the job description.

Q. What are the essential transferable skills?

A. All transferable skills are important, but some will always be demanding and relevant. The list of essential transferable skills includes communication, teamwork, creativity, adaptability, collaboration, analytical, and leadership skills.

Q. What is the difference between soft and transferable skills?

A. Transferable skills can be hard skills and are easy to measure. On the other hand, soft skills are complex to measure. For example, time management is a soft skill that is complex to measure, whereas computer and technical skills are transferable skills that are easy to measure. Transferable skills can belong to different categories, like management, clerical, and interpersonal skills. On the other hand, there is no categorization of soft skills.

Q. Is it necessary to constantly develop transferable skills?

A. Yes, it is vital to hone your transferable skills continuously. These skills help you demonstrate to the employer that you can do the particular job irrespective of whether your skills match the job description. If you possess more relevant transferable skills, your chances of landing the job also go up. Moreover, these skills highlight your ability to be an asset to an organization.

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