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Transferable skills are those skills you have learned through your previous jobs, sports you played, hobbies you pursued, parenting, projects you may have completed, as well as the classes you’ve taken. Now, granted the skills learned making fries in the local coffee shop may not be directly transferable to a white collar career that you are seeking, however the skills you learned in selling those fries may well be transferable to a personnel career for example.

If you have, for example, created procedure manuals for your college football team delving heavily into various plays, you will not list this as one of your transferable skills if you are searching for an IT employment. However, by making it more computer-related, this skill will be viewed as acceptable for the careers for which you are making application.

Is it a matter of juggling words around to say the same thing in different ways to fit the jobs? Yes, but “heaving garbage cans about to empty them” certainly is not as appetizing as saying that you “acted as the company’s sanitation engineer working closely with others, with a heavy required emphasis on teamwork.” This is a perfect example of determining your transferable skills for a job search.

For example you may have communication skills that are quite transferable if you wrote concise messages for others, facilitated any group discussions, or were instrumental in reporting facts to others, regardless of the basic reason why you did those things. You can obviously “conceptualize potential requirements as well as solutions,” if you had experiences wherein you were in charge of forecasting something or had to imagine alternatives to a problem, and you could identify all the related needs of your group. This brings forth a number of transferable skills for various employment or careers.

Our counter help selling the fries in the first paragraph actually learned a tremendous amount about human relations. This is especially true when selling those fries involved being good while serving others and making them happy. Your boss may have told you to sell more fries with sandwiches, and thus you were “instrumental in motivation of others,” as well as “represented others in my line of work.” You would use “Was able to use interpersonal skills when resolving conflict” rather than “apologized for giving them a wrong order” in your local hamburger selling job. I would assume that by now, you’re getting the hang of determining your transferable skills for a job search.

As football captain for your team, you managed to gain “a superb ability to guide, direct and supervise groups of people” as well as being “excellent in dealing in decision making with others.” Or, do you perhaps have “day-to-day ability to support the promotion of valuable production as well as work satisfaction” since you are punctual, reliable and attentive to details?

Your transferable job skills need to be effectively and strategically portrayed for any jobs or careers. It is highly important that you follow through when listing your cover letters, resume and even in planning your interview strategies.

Keep in mind that even though you’ve put down what your “actual” qualifications may be, there are many other transferable skills you may have that you’ve not even thought about. Look back at your school career and pick out, for example, the way that you helped your friends conduct research for their own papers that they had to research before writing them. Thus you identified problems, imagined alternatives, extracted important information, solved problems, and identified resources.

A. Harrison Barnes is the founder and CEO of CareerMission, the parent company of more than 90 job-search websites, employment services, recruiting firms and student loan companies. CareerMission (originally Juriscape) employs several hundred employees in 14 offices throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. These companies were literally started from Harrison’s garage several years ago after Harrison quit his job.

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