Education and training can help you develop the technical skills and experience needed for a particular industry, but the more innate “soft” skills—aka transfer skills—can help you succeed at any job and any company. As a recruiter, I can quickly recognize qualities that companies are seeking by spending time with you on the phone, asking questions such as:
1. What is your expertise?
2. What value would you bring to this position?
3. What would your boss say (s)he most appreciates about you?
4. What’s the next step in your career?
Recruiters and interviewers are looking for articulate and passionate answers to questions like these in their efforts to gauge your transferable skills. To help prepare you for that process, here is my “Transfer of Skills Top 10 List”:
Initiative — One of the most important transferable skills, initiative entails going above and beyond the job description. It means not being solely focused on day-to-day work but seeing opportunities and sharing ideas with your team and boss. Often companies bring in people with diverse backgrounds rather than promoting from within because such candidates—diversity candidates as well as candidates from different-sized companies and other industries—bring in fresh ideas that can help a company grow.
Passion — You’re unlikely to be good at your job if you’re not passionate about it—or at the very least, it will be hard to sustain a high level of performance without taking an interest or finding some challenge in it. Being challenged at work can fuel your passion, which reciprocally expresses itself in your good work.
Multitasking — Companies don’t want an employee with tunnel vision; they do want someone who can do more than one thing. As a transfer skill, multitasking means being well organized, good at time management, and effective at juggling and prioritizing tasks.
Flexibility — In some companies, one day might be completely different from the next, and businesses want flexible candidates who won’t get frustrated by a shifting workflow. Markets and work environments can change quickly. If you are an adaptable person who is comfortable outside of a structured environment, you are a candidate with a highly valued transfer skill.
High Energy — Companies don’t want people who will become complacent in their job and simply wait around to collect their pension. Employers hire people who radiate enthusiasm and actively pursue their own learning. By asking more questions and continuing to learn and grow, you will inspire others around you to do the same.
Engaging and Influencing — These two transferable skills go hand-in-hand: if you can articulate your ideas in an engaging way, you can influence people without being intimidating. An engaging personality is a “consulting personality” and can help you earn others’ respect and inspire their confidence in your ideas. Having influence over internal stakeholders, clients or customers can make it easier for you to carry out your responsibilities—thus helping your company meet its goals.
High Potential — As transfer skills go, this is something of a collective category blending intelligence, insight and drive. Employers are looking for people who are “smart, sharp and savvy,” because these individuals will go far no matter their current position.
People Skills — Leaders are excellent communicators, and they know how to talk from the bottom up. If you know how to command a room, yet also make everyone in it feel comfortable, you’ll likely be able to work with a range of personalities and create a positive working environment for your team.
Positive Attitude — This transferable skill is obvious but easily overlooked. A positive attitude can make or break a team, and it can also affect your approach to problem solving. A simple attitude adjustment can make all the difference to your career.
What transferable skills do you think help job candidates stand out the most? Share your top picks.