5 Key Transferable Skills You Probably Didn’t Know You Had

4 minute read

Are you looking for a career in the charity sector, but feel like you don’t have the skills required? Think again! Transferable skills are vital to all sectors, including the charity sector, which means you can gain them in nearly any job and industry. It’s just about knowing how to make it clear why these skills are important in your application.

Don’t shy away from including key transferable skills on your CV. They demonstrate that you’re adaptable and that you could be an asset to the organisation.


What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are qualities that are learnt in one profession and can be applied to another. They aren’t just gained at work—you can also develop key transferable skills from life experiences.

Just think about all the things you learn when you travel or volunteer. And what about your hobbies—how do they shape your skillset? Perhaps you play for a football team which enables you to develop teamwork skills, or you have your own blog which sharpens your communication skills. This all builds you into a more effective employee.


Why are transferable skills important?

Outside of the education sphere, success is no longer defined by having good grades, which is why transferable skills are so important. They’re general and can be used across different areas and departments of an organisation.

Including these skills in your CV can be the difference between landing a job in the charity sector and facing rejection. Here are five key transferable skills that you probably didn’t know you had.

5 Key Transferable Skills You Probably Didn’t Know You Had

1. Communication

Communication is the key to success in many organisations and it’s no different for charities. You’ll need to be clear and able to adapt a sincere tone of voice. Whether you’re working at a charity shop, creating marketing strategies or persuading donors, communication plays a vital role, especially when you’re dealing with vulnerable people.

CV example: ‘During my previous roles in business, I had to communicate effectively with suppliers to ensure deliveries were made when required so that we had the correct amount of stock. I was also responsible for communicating directly with customers, which required a different approach and technique.’

If you don’t have any work experience, you can use examples from college or university. For example:
‘During my time at college I worked on many research projects as part of my coursework. These required me to present both verbally and through essays in a clear and precise manner, often communicating complicated data and information in an easy-to-digest way. I received XXX grade for my coursework.’


2. Enthusiasm and dedication

Enthusiasm and dedication are vital in the charity sector—probably more so than in most other sectors, because you need to show a clear connection to the organisation.

Hiring managers want to see that you’re passionate about your chosen charity and want to help the cause. And the more passionate you are, the better the culture fit will be because it’s likely that everyone who works there is just as dedicated.

CV example: ‘I have participated in more than fifteen fundraising events for [name of cause] over the last five years. Last year, I did a sponsored run for X charity and raised £XXX. I am passionate about the charity and want to help the cause in any way possible, even if I’m not being paid to do so.’

5 Key Transferable Skills You Probably Didn’t Know You Had

3. Organisational skills

From meeting deadlines to following set processes, organisational skills are crucial in charity work. This is especially true in small charities, as you may be asked to take on the responsibilities of several different roles. You’ll often be working under pressure to do things like organise the shop floor or manage external communications that inform sponsors of your charity’s activities.

If you’re not organised, things can quickly fall apart, and the charity may not have the resources to help you sort it out. Make this skill crystal clear from the get-go.

CV example: In my current job, I create daily to-do lists that prioritise tasks and monitor the time spent on each project to ensure I am on track. Last year, we had two campaigns running at the same time as well as preparing for the launch of our new newsletter. Despite the pressures from each of these projects, they were all completed on time and had a high success rate.’


4. Teamwork

Employees in the charity sector need to work together to raise funds and make a difference in their community. That’s why a diverse workforce is essential to achieving a charity’s purpose. Every person brings different skills to the table, but when they come together to apply individual perspectives it leads to innovation and creative problem-solving.

Charities need to attract volunteers, donors and trustees, and employees need to work together to adapt to new government policies and overcome challenges such as having limited resources. The more of a team player you are, the more attractive your application will be.

CV example: ‘At university, I was part of the student union. We had to work together to plan fundraisers and communicate the needs of the students back to the university. At times, I wanted to take control and do things myself, but I learned to be patient and consider all perspectives and ideas in order to find the best solution.’

5 Key Transferable Skills You Probably Didn’t Know You Had

5. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are about how we interact with others. They include being able to build solid relationships with colleagues and potential donors, and having the confidence to deal with challenging situations.

Working in the charity sector means you’ll need a positive attitude, empathy and the emotional intelligence to engage with customers and donors. That’s why honing your interpersonal skills is essential.

CV example: ‘In my previous role in hospitality, I built authentic and lasting relationships with customers by making sure I was approachable at all times and attentive when taking orders, dealing effectively with any issues. As a result, our restaurant increased its rating to 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor.’


Think of your key transferable skills as your unique selling point. Identifying how you’ve developed skills such as teamwork, communication and organisation will set the foundations for you to land your dream job in the charity sector.

Feel like you tick these boxes? If so, then you have key transferable skills. Draw these from your experience and you’ll nail your charity job applications.


This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.


Sharon Walpole

Sharon Walpole is Director of Careermap, an online jobs board with a difference. They tell stories to bring vacancies to life for young people and their influencers. Careermap is committed to providing quality up-to-date information about careers and qualifications to help navigate through careers of the future.

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