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Transferable skills: More important than ever

So many Australians have lost their jobs to COVID-19 and many are working diligently to land a new position. An important tip is to highlight transferable skills in your resume, on your LinkedIn profile and definitely during interview.

What exactly are transferable skills?

Also called ‘portable skills’, these are skills you can apply to various roles or occupations, not just one position. They can, in other words, be transferred between jobs, departments, sectors or industries.

When used to advantage, transferable skills often make the difference between getting a role or not—the difference between success and failure.

Kate Prior, Chief Executive Officer of face2face Recruitment, says it’s essential and highly effective to emphasise transferable skills when applying for new positions, especially in today’s employment market. “Emphasising these skills to a potential employer helps them see how you can add value, even if you don’t have specific experience,” says Kate.

Let’s illustrate using a retail position. While you may not have worked in retail before, your prospective employer’s ears will perk up when you talk about transferable skills such as customer service, flexibility, communications and teamwork. If you’re moving from a retail  into an administrative role you can emphasise administrative skills like creating and sending out emails and responding to phone enquiries.

Transferable skills are always important but especially critical if you want to move from the public to the private sector or vice versa. Check this expert article for more ideas.

The catch is that not everyone finds it easy to identify such skills.

“If you’re struggling to identify and describe your transferable skills, or don’t know how to pitch them, it’s best to sign up with a professional recruitment agency for support on thinking laterally about how to do so,” says Kate. “Expert recruiters work with this every day.”

Top seven transferable skills

Here are more details on some key transferable skills, backed by examples demonstrating how they can add value to your job search. These top seven showcase the importance of transferable skills to all jobs and all rungs of the promotional ladder:

  • Flexibility—ability to diversify, work in a range of roles and adapt to changing environments.
  • Business strategy—ability to research and develop actions, plans and goals accounting for market factors.
  • Leadership—ability to manage and inspire teams and individuals to be their best and the ability to foresee problems and resolve conflict. Also skills in prioritising work and delegating, critical thinking and problem solving.
  • People—ability to co-operate, interact with others, be empathetic and understanding, including with colleagues, management, clients and other stakeholders.
  • Teamwork—ability to work with others to advance business goals in one direction, build rapport and make a major contribution along the way.
  • Organisation—ability to excel at time management, planning, administration, multitasking and even research and analysis.
  • Communications—ability to understand the art of listing, excel at clear writing and oral skills, and be strong in facilitating, persuading and negotiating.

“As expert recruiters we discuss with jobseekers how these skills interrelate,” says Kate. “The more jobseekers ‘get it’ the stronger their resume and job applications will be and the more they’ll shine at interview.”

If you find identifying your transferable skills challenging, and want to chat about how to weave key ones into your search for work, contact face2face on (02) 6199 5750 or

Want to learn more?

Interested in learning more about smartening up your job search?

Every week we publish expert articles on a wide range of recruitment topics. Follow us on social media for alerts:




You can also regularly check free resources page on our website for such useful articles as well as handy tools and templates.

Last, but not least, our Managing Director, Kate Prior, has published “Resume Success Secrets: How to write a resume that gets the job done! It’s loaded with valuable information, including bonus interview tips. Order through Amazon.

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