It’s time to think about transferable skills!

4 minute read

Working on a new CV for 2015? Make sure you give some thought to your transferable skills- they might be worth a whole lot more than you realised!

skillssEveryone has transferable skills, and they can be a great way to single you out from the crowd, so we’re sharing our top tips to help you make the most of them.

What counts as a transferable skill?

Transferable skills are your own individual set of skills and aptitudes, which can be applied across a wide spectrum of jobs. As they are personal to you, you may have picked them up and enhanced them in previous jobs, or even at school or university. You may have even gained transferable skills through voluntary work, or acting as a trustee for a charity.

For instance, you might have enhanced your leadership, communication and problem solving skills at Christmas, whilst volunteering for your favourite charity. These are all great examples of transferable skills, as they can be applied to a wide variety of jobs.

Why are these sorts of skills important?

When you are applying for any role, you’ll need to be able to show that you have the right skills and experience for the position. Perhaps you’ve seen a job description that states that you need to have experience with a certain type of computer software, or have experience with a certain type of fundraising? You’d need to have these skills to go forward with the job application. But- when you start showing off your transferable skills too, you’ll really be able to prove that you can fit in with the team.

These skills can therefore be especially useful for new graduates, or those who are looking to move into the charity sector for the first time.

It’s a great idea to go through your CV and work out the transferable skills you’ve gained from each job, qualification, or voluntary experience. Not only will this allow you to put together a handy list, but it’s great for refreshing your memory of your past experience – you’ll need to talk about this in an interview.

Already know your transferable skills?

The next step is to work out which ones you need to share for each application. The best arrowway to do this, is to go through each job description with a fine-toothed comb. What is the criteria asking for? Think of all the ways that your transferable skills match the criteria, and use them to show that you are the perfect candidate.

Remember, always use an example to prove that you have these skills. For example, if you say you are a really good communicator, you need to give an example of a time when you put your communication skills to use. Instead of ‘great communication skills’, try ‘great communications skills, demonstrated when I successfully co-ordinated a team from across different departments to arrange a charity event’. This sounds much more impressive, as it shows that you can substantiate your claims. The key is to make sure you always have a way to back up your skill. If you can’t think of an example, it’s best not to include the skill on your CV, as recruiters will probably ask you for an example at interview.

naomiCharityRecruit Recruitment Consultant Naomi says:

“The majority of transferable skills are gained through experience and it is important to continue to develop these in order that people can be aware of your capabilities. Make sure your CV highlights your experience in a way that is applicable to the job you’re applying for – job adverts/descriptions are great for showing what skills are of greatest importance for that position.”

Check out some top examples of transferable skills below. But remember, you need to be able to back up any skills you mention with examples from your previous experience:

Leadership, teamwork, time management, communication, excellent written and oral skills, interpersonal skills, customer skills, analytical skills, commitment, organisation, research skills, initiative, problem solving.

What about hobbies and interests?

Many people think recruiters aren’t very interested in reading these, but in some cases, it can help you stand out from the crowd. Just be careful to make sure it’s relevant to the job in some way. Keen diver? Unless you can relate this to the role, you might want to miss it off.

But it’s not as hard as it sounds. Many hobbies can relate to your chosen role. For instance, are you a technology geek who’s applying for an IT role? Great! Talk about your coding hobby. Or perhaps you’re a keen blogger or social media user who is applying for a marketing or communications role. This will show how strong your writing skills are, not to mention your understanding of writing copy for digital. Or, perhaps you are the president of your local committee? This would be great for anyone applying for a management role. Love Amateur Dramatics? This experience will make you a confident communicator if you’re going for a Fundraising role.

golfAgain, the trick here is all about backing it up. And for hobbies, you’ll want to back it up by stating how it can help you in the role you’re applying for.

Hobbies are great for recent graduates and those looking to move into the charity sector. But if your CV is already looking a bit long, it would probably be worth cutting these out. Remember, you can always bring them up in the interview if they’re really relevant to the position. Equally, if you don’t have any hobbies or interests that are relevant, then you’ll want to avoid including any. A quirky hobby might make you stand out amongst your friends, but it will put off recruiters if it’s on your CV without being relevant.

Find out more about writing a great CV.

CharityRecruit’s Naomi warns:

When it comes to hobbies and interests it’s important to realise that if a recruiter hasn’t been impressed by your CV initially these naomiare extremely unlikely to be your saving grace. Steer away from falling into a trap of saying you like “socialising with friends, cooking and reading” as these are very generic. Focus on genuine hobbies/interests, particularly if you feel they might fit with the company ethos/role you are applying to. But don’t make them up and risk falling short at interview!

Really want to stand out?

Finally, volunteer work is a great hobby, which is highly likely to be relevant to your job application. This is because recruiters in the sector love to see that candidates have a real commitment to charity. Interested in finding a new volunteer position? Check out some great opportunities here.

Related post:
How to: ace presentations
in interviews
Our handy tips to help you

Emma Begg

Product and Marketing Manager at CharityConnect. Love learning about new technology and helping to create a culture of collaboration over at

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