What are transferable skills?
A transferable skill is an ability or expertise which may be used in a variety of roles or occupations.
Here are five common transferable skills, with examples of how they might show up in different roles. Use this list to help identify your transferrable skills.
1. Critical thinking
. Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate, synthesize, and analyze information objectively to produce an original insight or judgment. Individuals who are critical thinkers will often prompt themselves and others to think more deeply about an issue, ensuring that a product, idea, or policy is thoroughly conceptualized.
Examples of critical thinking include:
A teacher who crafts a curriculum to fit the unique needs of their students
An employee who routinely questions the popular opinion in meetings to ensure that decisions are sound
A data scientist who asks original questions of datasets
A union representative who asks important questions of employers to ensure the safety and well-being of factory workers
Problem-solving is the ability to find solutions to complex or difficult issues. A person who is a skilled problem solver is likely good at identifying the underlying reasons a problem exists and then executing a plan to resolve it.
Problem-solving can come in many forms, including:
A cashier who quickly devises a way to take orders when the point-of-sale (POS) system shuts down
An accountant who creates a more efficient filing system
An intern in a political campaign who constructs a database to improve voter outreach
Adaptability is the ability to quickly adjust to new situations. An adaptable person is not only comfortable entering unfamiliar environments and facing new challenges but also often succeeds in such situations.
Examples of adaptability include:
A worker in a warehouse who is equally comfortable packing products, taking inventory, making deliveries, and negotiating shift schedules
A dispatcher who quickly responds to driver requests and offers alternative routes while switching between multiple applications
A recently hired employee at a company who quickly gets up to speed on an important project
Teamwork is the ability to work well with others and put the good of the project ahead of personal interest. A person who is good at teamwork is capable of supporting teammates, motivating others, and both giving and receiving constructive feedback.
Some examples of teamwork include:
A waiter who works under pressure with a team of bussers, cooks, and dishwashers, while tactfully maneuvering a range of personalities and interfacing with customers
A builder who must work with many others to ensure the timely completion of a home
A stagehand who must work with a team to ensure that a stage is quickly set during an opera performance
A copywriter who must simultaneously produce original material for a client and also adjust to client feedback
5. Attention to detail
Attention to detail is the ability to assure the quality of the finer aspects of a project. An individual who exhibits a refined attention to detail can focus on the minute—though crucial—aspects of a project or product that many others may overlook.
Some examples of attention to detail at work include:
A worker in a ceramics factory who assures the quality of each tile by checking them for imperfections in glaze, size, shape, and material
A bookkeeper who makes a habit of going through a company’s accounts line-by-line to ensure that all financial records are in order
An editor who reads through written content to correct any errors in spelling, grammar, or phrasing
A programmer who reads through lines of code to fix any mistakes
A garment worker who checks that the stitching on newly manufactured coats is correct.