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Transferable Skills in the Workplace


In this era of high employment turnover and mobility, your transferable skills are the arsenal that ensures your marketability, increases your professional competitive advantage and eases your transition into any new role. No matter how specific, specialized and limited you may think your past or present role to be, you are likely to have a set of highly valuable skills that are transferable across workplaces and hence essential to your career success. Transferable skills are the skills that employers look for when they are interviewing you so it is essential that you take stock of these and are able to cultivate them, add to them and recite them freely and confidently at job interviews.

Definition of Transferable Skills:-
Very simply explained, transferable skills are those versatile skills that you can apply and make use of in a number of different roles.

Why are Transferable Skills important:-
Transferable skills are the inventory of assets that help you transition into and excel in a new role. They ensure your professional resilience and the robustness and longevity of your career. Moreover they allow you to more easily and readily explore lateral dimensions in your career and acquire added skills and expertise. While highly specialized skills may be essential to building your own personal competitive advantage and ensuring success in a particular role or organization, it is the transferable skills that ensure you do not become professionally redundant or obsolete over the long term.

How Do You Acquire Transferable Skills:-
Everyone has transferable skills and they are acquired all through a person’s life from infant and grade school through to college and university via formal courses, informal education, personal reading, social activities, professional activities and life in general. Once you have identified the set of essential skills that you can take with you and apply anywhere you go, you can embark on a dedicated mission to cultivate these skills further and add to their inventory.

How Do You Identify Transferable Skills:-
Self-awareness gained through rigorous, systematic and ongoing self-assessment is essential to ensuring your marketability. There are plenty of sophisticated self-assessment tests that allow you to analyze your own personal strengths and weaknesses. You can also go through a skills checklist and tick all the ones that you are confident apply to you. Enlist the help of your boss or peers or professors or family if you would like a sounding board or external feedback and advice.

While the laundry list of transferable skills is huge, they can essentially be broadly consolidated under five main categories:-

  • Soft Skills
Also known as interpersonal or people skills, these entail the set of skills that allow you to positively relate to, communicate with, influence and inspire others. Some examples:-
  • Delegating skills
  • Coaching skills
  • Listening skills
  • Presenting skills
  • Co-operation skills
  • Analytical Skills
These are the intellectual skills that enable you to identify and analyse problems and find creative, innovative and feasible solutions. Some examples:-
  • Research skills
  • Data gathering skills
  • Data anaylsis skills
  • Creativity
  • Risk analaysis
  • Technical Skills
These are the practical hands-on skills like computer proficiency, ability to work with specific machinery, softwares, hardwares, ability to build or repair etc. Some examples:-
  • Programming
  • Networking
  • Coding
  • SQL knowledge
  • Flash, Photoshop, etc.
  • Organisational Skills
These are the skills that allow you to sort data, plan, arrange projects or resources, maintain accurate, effective and user-friendly records and coordinate multiple resources or tasks.
  • Prioritising
  • Time management
  • Task management
  • Resource management
  • Coordination
  • Personal Skills
These are the set of skills to do with workplace character. Some examples:-
  • Integrity
  • Reliability
  • Punctuality
  • Diligence
  • Decision-making ability

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