How Transferable Skills Can Help Your CareerPosted: 1st of August 2019 by Lewis Scott
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are those skills that an individual can apply to adapt to a new job role or setting. When applying for apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships, transferable skills really aid an employer’s decision, especially for school leavers, as candidates may not have that breadth of work experience expected in later careers.
What benefits can transferable skills bring?
Transferable skills can bring several benefits to employers, including:
- Diversity – the more transferable skills someone has, the more diverse they are as an employee.
- Flexibility – if an employee has a diverse range of skills, they are more flexible to take on new tasks and expand into new areas.
- Portability – when the employee leaves the company or moves job role, they take those skills and any new skills that they have learned with them.
- Employability – even without work experience, building a strong CV of transferable skills makes the applicant a strong job candidate because recognising how skills transfer into the workplace makes someone very employable.
Being able to articulate what skills an individual has and how these skills transfer into the desired job position is what will be considered as a strong application. The best way to show transferable skills in an application and interview process is through using past examples.
For example, perhaps you had a job in hospitality waitressing or bartending part-time during A-Levels, but the job you are going for is an office-based role. Immediately you think that these two things do not have a correlation; however, there will be skills that match.
So, what transferable skills might you have?
A sought-after skill is the ability to solve problems by providing solutions. You may have never solved an issue in a workplace of the same industry that you are applying to, but think of an example of a time when you have solved a problem that had a positive outcome.
A lady came into the restaurant one day with various allergies and she asked me what she could have on the menu. Not feeling educated enough to say, I decided to give her the folder that we use to determine the ingredients that we use. She was able to choose something from the menu that she enjoyed and left a positive Trip Advisor review. This shows I can solve problems by using my initiative to reach a simple and quick solution.
The example used seems simple, but it shows that you can solve a problem on the spot and reach a solution that is beneficial to all parties. You would then go on to say how you could help to solve problems in the role that you are interviewing / applying for.
2. Team working
Some people work well in teams, others prefer to work alone. But, like it or not, at some point in your career, you will have to work within a team. Teamwork in the workplace can come in the form of working within your immediate team, or across teams on collaborative projects. You may not have worked within a team in the same way as the role you are applying for, but you can still demonstrate transferable skills. A few examples would be:
- Playing in a sports team such as football, netball or hockey;
- Working in a team of bartending staff at a pub / restaurant;
- Solving a problem in a team in a task set at school;
- Working with others as part of a Duke of Edinburgh award.
These suggestions seem really simple, but working in a team is a valued skill that employers desire, particularly the larger companies. You may not have worked in an office environment team situation before, but the skills you have acquired from working as part of a different type of team can transfer those skills to the workplace.
3. Communication skills
Communication skills can be split up into verbal communication and written communication.
Verbal communication refers to the ability to speak concisely and clearly to colleagues and customers to convey a point. There are many ways in which you could communicate verbally, whether it’s through a presentation, in a meeting or when entertaining a customer or client. Being able to adapt in these situations is what will make you a master verbal communicator.
If you have ever worked in a customer-facing job role, verbal communication is at the heart of everything you do. For example, a shop assistant or a waiter has to communicate with people from all walks of life every day as part of their role; learning to adapt in each individual scenario makes you successful.
Written communication refers to good writing skills and again comes down to adaptability and flexibility. In the workplace, there are many types of written communication you might be asked to complete: reports, emails, blogs, articles or data sets. Though varied, the single most important requirement here is clarity.
English Language GCSE or A-Level is a good place to start with written communication skills as creative writing skills and analysis skills are just two of many written communication skills that you would have had to demonstrate.
4. Time management
Time management is one of the primary skills required to be successful in any workplace scenario, particularly if an apprenticeship is the higher education route you are looking to take. In the case of an apprenticeship, you are studying and working full-time, meeting deadlines for both workplace and qualification tasks. Therefore, time management is a critical skill required to succeed. If you are a school leaver, this is also a skill that could be tricky to evidence to an employer, so here are a few examples:
- Balancing A-Levels with an extracurricular activity;
- Balancing A-Levels with a part-time job role;
- Working full-time and learning a new skill such as coding or programming.
Showing that you have committed to managing your time and balancing multiple tasks at once will stand you in good stead, particularly for an apprenticeship programme.
5. Work ethic
Having a strong work ethic is something that is generally part of a person’s values or qualities, rather than a skill. Having a good work ethic means that you take a positive approach to work and don’t only work hard for rewards. Work ethic also involves being honest and caring when it comes to interacting with co-workers. Being committed is also something that employers correlate with a good work ethic. Some examples that you could use to demonstrate a good work ethic are:
- Committing to a sport at a high level alongside your studies;
- Working really hard on a project to achieve results;
- Getting coursework in early before deadlines;
- Starting your A-Level revision plan early to get ahead.
Having a good work ethic comes down to how hard you work as a person within that job role and how willing you are to go above and beyond without expecting constant rewards.
Transferable skills are vital when applying for a job role, whether it’s a career path or an apprenticeship programme. Showing how the skills you possess transfer into skills that will aid the desired job role will put you in a good position to show yourself as a strong candidate.
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