Transferable skills to add to your resume

Learn how to write a resume that pinpoints and highlights the skills you have to help land the job you want.

Transferable skills to add to your resume

Transferrable skills can help you broaden your job search.

Resume writing is no picnic under the best of circumstances, such as having ample relevant work experience. The process is even more challenging when switching careers. How do you show employers you’ve got what it takes to do the job if you haven’t actually done the job? No worries—by leveraging transferable skills, you can build an effective career change resume.

What are transferable skills?

Career expert Richard N. Bolles pioneered the idea of transferable skills in his perennial bestseller What Color Is Your Parachute? According to Bolles, we all possess skills that we take from job to job. These portable skills can be broken down into three categories: people (communicating, teaching, coaching, and supervising), data (record keeping, researching, translating, and compiling data), and things (operating computers/equipment, assembling, and repairing).

If you’re seeking a career change, there’s a good chance that your current skills are transferable and applicable to your new career choice. The tricky part is figuring out which skills are most desirable and repackaging them on your resume to appeal to your target audience. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Find transferable skills

The first step is all about research. Once you know what skills employers want, you can start building your transferable skills strategy. Use these resources:

  • Job ads: Search for your target job on Monster and review the frequently requested skills in the job postings. Look for skills that are related to skills you developed via another career, hobby, educational pursuit, or other activities.
  • O*NET OnLine: Take advantage of O*NET’s extensive database of occupational information, from the keyword search tool to the skills search tool that matches your skills to specific occupations.
  • Industry networking: Speak with workers in your target field, read trade publications, study employer marketing materials, network at industry events, and connect with industry associations to learn which skills are important.

Step 2: Pinpoint your transferable skills

After identifying the skills employers want, you can uncover the transferable skills you have through self-analysis and skills assessments. “I’m a firm believer in using assessment tools to help career changers identify transferable skills,” says Anne-Marie Ditta, certified professional resume writer, executive career coach, and CEO of First Impression Career Services, LLC in New Rochelle, New York.

In her career services practice, Ditta uses tools such as Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), DiSC® profile assessments, and CliftonStrengths assessments to support career changers who are charting new paths. “I love seeing the spark in people’s eyes when they make the connection between their soft skills, interpersonal style, and behavioral strengths and what they enjoy doing.”

Once you start taking inventory of your transferable skills, you may be surprised by how many skills are relevant to your new career goal. “Most clients find they have at least 50 percent of transferable skills needed for their new job,” says Christine Edick, a certified career coach. Edick recommends an exercise in which career changers list the target job skills requirements, transferable skills, and relevant accomplishments.

Use this chart to map your transferable skills:

Skills required for new job

Sourced from Monster job ads, O*NET, and industry networking

Transferable skills

Current skills that are related to the skills in the left column


Relevant accomplishments

Accomplishments, contributions, and other successes that demonstrate your use of the transferable skill

Skill #1:



Skill #2:



Skill #3:



Skill #4:



Skill #5:



Skill #6:



Skill #7:



Skill #8:




Step 3: Add transferable skills to your resume

Now comes the fun part—adding your transferable skills to your resume, preferably in a prominent position so they stand out. “Showcasing transferable skills upfront helps the human reader see the keywords they are looking for, and then they can look to other parts of the resume for more details,” says Edick.

Ditta agrees that transferable skills need to be front and center when changing careers. “The summary section is an ideal place to highlight information relevant to the position.”

To take your resume to the next level, go beyond simply listing skills and show how you’ve used them in the experience section. There are various approaches you can take to outlining your accomplishments, such as CAR (Challenge, Actions, Results) exercises and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) stories.

“SMART stories are a great way for candidates to assess how their experience is relevant to opportunities,” says Ditta. “A resume needs to demonstrate that the jobseeker’s skills align with the qualifications and requirements of the opening.”

Whether you rely on self-analysis or assessment tools to develop your list of accomplishments, stay focused on the employer’s needs. Incorporating relevant, transferable skills in your resume can help prove that skills developed in one career transfer to a new career.

Make sure your resume impresses

A career change isn't the only instance in which you'd want your resume to highlight your transferrable skills. No matter what job you're after, these skills should be emphasized. Need help getting your resume in shape? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. It's a quick and easy way to give your resume a boost and set yourself up for an awesome job search.