Career Advice, Insights

How Transferable Skills Can Help You Change Careers

Business people discussing over plan

If your job has been – or is likely to be – negatively impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic, you may find yourself in a position where you need to consider switching jobs. Depending on what industry you currently work in, it might be that you face a complete career change.

While a lack of industry experience isn’t ideal, transferable skills can sometimes more than make up for this lack of experience. If you can demonstrate the relevance of these transferable skills on your CV and during an interview, hiring managers might be keen to get you on board to fill open vacancies. 

Let’s look deeper into what ‘transferable skills’ are and explore how they can help you leverage a new career. 

What are transferable skills? 

In simple terms, transferable skills are those that can be applied across different roles. They’re often soft skills; personal attributes that you’ve developed over time through personal relationships, work or hobbies. But, they can also be hard skills – skills you’ve acquired through education and training, such as writing or IT literacy. 

While the range of skills an employer or recruiter will be looking for depends on the role, some of the core transferable skills that will help you stand out are: 


Demonstrating in an interview that you’re proficient in both written and verbal communication is guaranteed to impress the interviewer. This is because employers want people who are confident in clearly expressing themselves, whether it’s with colleagues, customers or peers. Especially during this prolonged period of remote working, communication skills are vital.


When bringing on new members of staff, employers are looking for people who they feel will work well with the existing team. This is because teams who can work harmoniously together, achieve more with fewer issues arising. Therefore the interviewer will be looking for signs that you’re capable of listening, have great communication skills and can show empathy to others. 


Meeting deadlines is imperative for the success of a business, as it means customers are receiving their goods/services on time and costs are kept on track, which in turn keeps the company’s cashflow on balance. Hiring managers will be impressed by people who can show they’re able to organise their work schedule, deal with unexpected issues quickly and work effectively with others. 


Listening is more than hearing what is being said, it’s about being able to interpret the message and successfully complete the task, or being able to retrieve information and implement it to achieve a positive outcome. For an employer, hiring people with great listening skills means fewer mistakes will be made, which increases productivity and innovation. 

An interviewer will be continuously testing your listening skills by seeing how well your answers match the questions being asked. 


It could be easy to think that this skill would only be sought after in people applying for managerial jobs. In fact, leadership is a skill that employers look for in all employees, regardless of seniority. They want to know that when the time comes, you’ll be confident to step forward and take charge, whether it’s dealing with a customer complaint or making sure a project stays on track. 

RELATED: 5 Soft Skills That Recruiters Want You To Have 

Switching jobs is easier with the right transferable skills  

Switching industries isn’t easy but the key to successfully doing it is being able to demonstrate that while you may not have direct experience, the skills you’ve gained working in different industries (or through volunteering or hobbies) stand you in a good place to be an asset to a business. 

Finance > Marketing

If your dream is to move from finance into marketing, for example, take this time to research what skills employers or recruiters are looking for. The skills required to manage finances include having a great eye for detail, an analytical mindset and being a problem-solver. These skills are highly sought after in marketing, particularly digital marketing where the scope and success of a project are reliant on handling and interpreting data. 

Your experience of budgeting will also be highly desirable, so ensure you highlight this on your CV and keep referring back to it in the interview. 

Sales > Project Management

Maybe, your background is in sales but you long to work in project management. By showing hirers you’ve acquired the skills that match what they’re looking for like great written and verbal communication, time management and organisational skills, you’ll be placing yourself  in a good position to get the job. 

Leadership also plays a major role in project management. For instance, you may have to oversee a team to ensure they’re sticking to the schedule. Similarly, sales also involve taking charge, such as leading a team of sales executives or managing high-income generating accounts. Again, ensure the recruiter or employer is aware of your competency in this area by weaving examples into your responses. 

RELATED: 5 Transferable Skills To Empathise 

How to impress interviewers with your transferable skills  

A recruiter or employer is obviously impressed by your CV, that’s why you’ve been invited for an interview. 

However, the amount of time you have in an interview is limited, so make sure you take the opportunity to prove that a lack of experience isn’t a reason not to hire you:

  • Identify what transferable skills you have

First, it’s important to know what transferable skills you have in order so you can sell them to an employer. But, analysing yourself isn’t easy – you may downplay your skills, or alternatively, you may end up inflating them! 

To help you draw up a list, look back over what has been mentioned in job appraisals or what colleagues/peers have mentioned to you. Also, read through your endorsements or recommendations on LinkedIn to see what skills people admire in you. 

  • Be clear on the skills the recruiter/employer is looking for

Armed with your list of skills, refer back to the job description to identify which ones on your list match what the recruiter or employer is searching for. These may either be listed separately on the job description or written into the copy of the role requirements. 

If a job description isn’t available, speak to the person hiring and ask what skills are needed. Alternatively, search for similar roles on Glassdoor’s Jobs section and see what skills are mentioned. 

  • Show how your transferable skills will add value

It’s incredibly important that the interviewer is clear on what value you’ll bring to the business. Here, highlighting that you’re a quick learner, are adaptable and are willing to ‘muck in’ to learn the ropes, will help you stand-out, particularly, as you’ll be going up against others who are more experienced. 

Intertwine examples into your answers to give your responses extra impact. For instance, what if you’re asked to give an example of when you’ve had to solve a difficult problem? Have a couple of stories prepared that briefly explain what the problem was, what role you played and focusing in-depth on the results, using stats or figures to back up your claims. 

RELATED: 5 Types Of Interviews And How To Ace Them

banner 1 1024x276