The term ‘transferable skills’ is often brought up by recruiters and hiring managers, but what does it mean?  

These are skills you (probably) already have that can make all the difference in a job application. Why are these particular traits so beneficial to help you change careers, even if you’re looking to enter a completely different industry?

What are Transferable Skills?  

Transferable skills aren’t job or industry-specific; these abilities contribute to a well-rounded professional regardless of field or discipline. For instance, specialist training on how to operate heavy mining machinery may not be useful to you in a corporate office setting. The ability to work well in a team, by contrast, is advantageous in whatever industry you choose to work in. 

That’s not to say that ‘hard’ skills - those which can be quantified in some way, like typing speed, for example – can’t also be transferable, however ‘soft’ skills (personality-based attributes and abilities) prove to be helpful in a more universal manner. 

With that in mind, there are desirable soft skills that many of us likely already have, and if you can demonstrate that – it will help you change industries. You can list these skills on your CV, and if there are any that you need to improve, you can look to short courses to fill those gaps or enhance your existing skills.

1. Critical Thinking  

As defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking in 1987, critical thinking can be described as “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analysing, synthesising, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” 

Simply put in the context of the workplace, an aptitude for critical thinking is useful in being able to understand the most critical information, and then using it to make impactful decisions and solve difficult problems.  

If you think critical thinking is your forte, you might be suited to one of our data courses like our Data Literacy: Telling Data Stories microcredential. Working with data and analytics can lead to careers like: 

  • Data Analytics 
  • Data Journalism 
  • Data Engineering 

2. Communication 

There are very few jobs that don’t require at least a small amount of communication from day to day with colleagues, customers, clients or other stakeholders. And when it comes to transferable skills, successful interpersonal communication is essential for any industry.  

The ability to communicate well leads to the forging of stronger workplace relationships, which leads to the delivery of higher-quality work as a result. Key communicative skills to nurture moving forward include: 

  • Clarity of message 
  • Public speaking 
  • Presentation skills   

If you need to improve your interpersonal communication or want to signpost to employers that you have these skills, a short course Engaging with Stakeholders: Tools and Tactics will stand you in good stead for future careers. The potential job pathways this skill is useful for are wide-ranging and include: 

  • Managers 
  • Communication professionals 
  • Community engagement managers or liaison officers 
  • Member/employee communication managers 
  • Stakeholder managers 
  • Public affairs managers 
  • Project managers across industries, including the not-for-profit sector. 

3. Time Management 

Good time management is valued by employers across all sectors and industries. Tardiness is frustrating in all environments, both professional and personal, the ability to showcase good timekeeping demonstrates;  
a) your professionalism,  
b) your organisational skills, and  
c) your attention to detail/precise nature. 

If you know you have great time management, for instance, then a Business Analytics microcredential could help you get into another industry. A qualification in this area can lead you to professions in which proficiency in time management is crucial, such as logistics and distribution. 

4. Adaptability and a Willingness to Learn 

The professionals with the most successful careers are often those that display the capacity to admit when they don’t know something; this willingness to learn, to be able to put your hands up and say “I don’t know, but I want to” is both refreshingly honest, and shows to your employer that you’re committed, eager and keen to move forward with a profession, as opposed to just treading water. 
For those people who thrive in ever-changing scenarios, and who pride themselves on their versatility and adaptability, then you might want to try our Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Masterclass. This is for those interested in learning more about how AI and machine learning can help across almost any industry. 

How to Identify the Transferable Skills You Already Have 

The best way to identify which transferable skills you already possess is to either: 
a) take an assessment (such as Bizlibrary's Soft Skills Assessment
b) List out your strengths  

Visualising your strengths and your professional shortcomings can help you contextualise what skills you need to look to improve.  

If you’re interested in working to improve your transferable skills, change careers or improve performance at your current work, find out more about our study options here. To upskill your team with a learning experience designed for your organisation, see our corporate training options here.