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We hear a lot about skills these days - life skills, employability skills, skills gap. Another term you may have heard is 'transferable skills' in connection with getting into work or changing career. But what actually are they? And how do you identify yours? Adviser Annie Todd explains.


Transferable skills are abilities you can transfer from another role you have played in your life to a usable skill in the workplace. 

Perhaps you are a school student or graduate looking for a job. Think of the skills you acquired whilst studying:

  • Planning and organising
  • Ability to work to deadlines
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Research capabilities
  • Enthusiasm and self-motivation

All of these are of interest and relevance to an employer.

Maybe you are a mum looking for work. These (and many more besides) are the skills you need to be a mother:

  • Promoting development through reading and story telling
  • Planning and organisation of appointments and outings
  • Providing nutritious meals and snacks
  • Dealing with the house budgets and bills
  • Keeping a comfortable and safe environment

Your skills may not have been gained in the workplace but they are still valuable and demonstrate a wide range of abilities.

Are you a volunteer in a charity shop looking for a paid role? Consider the skills you have learned there:

  • Cash and till handling
  • Customer service
  • Stock rotation and display
  • Pricing and labelling
  • Delivery handling

Think outside of the box

Consider the things you like doing in your spare time. Maybe you are a keen gardener, or love to bake, or perhaps you enjoy organising travel and entertainment. 

Think of equipment you can use, instructions you can follow, bookings you can make – it doesn’t matter that they are things you do in your personal life they can all be transferred to a working environment.

Do you play a sport or you go to fitness/dance classes? That makes you:

  • Someone who interacts easily with others
  • A good team player
  • Fit and healthy
  • Keen to develop your skills further
  • Supportive of team mates
  • Encouraging to others.

So remember, it is not only your workplace skills as evident from your employment history that employers are looking for. It's also those things you may be doing on a daily basis without even realising that they are valuable skills.

"There is no passion to be found in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living." - Nelson Mandela

Need to talk through your career issues? Book a session with a professional adviser.


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