These are the 9 skills that would make any hiring manager happy

They’re called “transferable” because you can take them with you to any new gig.

These are the 9 skills that would make any hiring manager happy

If you’ve considered changing careers, you've probably grappled with the fear that you might not have the right skills for a new line of work. But give yourself a little credit. You’ve got skills. Plenty of ‘em in fact. And just the type employers in all industries are looking for.

Remember the time you condensed that incomprehensible pile of data into a few key slides for a presentation? That’s data management. Or when you nailed it in that brainstorming session on how you were going to position a few new hires on your team? That’s critical thinking. Even that time you organized the company softball game? That counts as communication.

Many of the most transferable skills are those that enable you to relate to people and deal with challenges in your work life. “Interviewers know that technical skills can be taught but personality traits are much more difficult to change,” says Alex Freund, a career coach in New Jersey.

So if you’re looking for a new line of work, highlight these nine skills that cross most industries—and therefore would make a boss in any field very happy.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to make good decisions, and take appropriate action to solve problems. All employers everywhere value this ability, which also encompasses analytical skills like gathering and evaluating information.

Example: After a thorough analysis of your department’s two vendors, you decide to scale back the work of one by 25% while ramping up the other by 60% because you feel you’ll get a much greater return on that investment.


Collaboration is the ability to work effectively with others despite differences and opposing points of view. Teams today can be very diverse—split by politics, work styles and personalities, notes Amanda Gerrie, a career consultant in the San Francisco Bay area. So the ability to work together toward a common goal is a critical skill.

Example: You were in charge of managing your team’s intern last summer, which involved in coordination with your co-workers over the person’s workload and priorities.


This includes teaching, motivating, coaching and supervising. Even in non-management jobs, the ability to motivate fellow employees toward a common goal, gauge priorities and manage resources is highly desirable.

Example: You helped coordinate your office's softball team—recruiting people to the team, keeping them informed about games and overall creating an atmosphere of camaraderie.


This word can really do a lot for a candidate’s profile. Creativity, as it pertains to the working world, means having a knack for coming up with imaginative and original ways to solve problems or create new value. This is about more than just innovation. This is about seeing something that isn’t there then making it appear.

Example: It feels like everyone at your company is always asking for a copy of that one report that comes out every month. You dig on the Internet and find a free tool that would disseminate this report internally to only those people who opt in. After getting the necessary approvals, you implement the tool, saving everyone lots of time.

Written communication

Being able to effectively convey ideas in writing is valuable. This involves first synthesizing data and situations and then translating them in a way that helps other people understand and act. Even without data, if you can concisely and smartly communicate your ideas you’re pretty much golden in the eyes of a new manager.

Example: You know the vice president of your company likes to be prepared with times, dates and themes of important industry events. Anticipating this, you do a little homework and punch up a bulleted list with this info for your boss to review.


So what if you’re not yet capable of developing for Facebook yet. If you’re able to clean up a web page using your sparse knowledge of HTML or able to make a suggestion based on your limited experience with CSS, you’re in great shape in terms of this highly-transferable skill.

Example: You’re asked to contribute to a blog your company is publishing to promote the company. You provide a 500-word post, and using your knowledge of HTML, you’re able to advise the publishing team on the format and style you want your blog post to have.

Time management

This one is pretty simple: When your boss gives you an assignment, are you able to complete it—to his or her liking—in the timeframe allotted? If you answered yes, you can probably include this in your arsenal of skills.

Example: Your manager asks you deliver a three-bullet point summary on a project you’re working on by the end of the next business day, and you do it. No problem.

Data management

Understanding, researching, translating and compiling data are increasingly valued abilities in many industries. The amount of data companies collect and manage has exploded in recent years and employees need to be comfortable working with all that information. Data can be any type of information that has meaning and needs context: A study your company commissions on a specific area of industry analysis, a  spreadsheet containing your company’s lapsed customers, or even a report on how a single post on a single social media platform performed.

Example: You receive six spreadsheets in your inbox, each containing a different data set to describe how a different segment of your team’s business is doing. You take this information and consolidate it for a presentation you’ll give in two weeks.

Customer service

Customers and clients keep the lights on at your business, so if you can show an employer you know how to deal with them when the going gets tough, you have a major leg up on your competition who can’t. “Whether we like it or not we are all in sales now,” says Gerrie, the San Francisco career consultant. “This includes the ability to listen, speak, persuade and collaboratively negotiate.”

Example: For some reason, you’re forwarded a thread with the subject line “concerned customer.” You read the thread and feel like you have a handle on what that concern might be. You reach out directly to the customer, offer a solution to the problem and offer to be free for that customer at any time to help him solve the problem so that it doesn’t happen again.