Transferable Skills: What are they and where do I get them?

Career tips for students in the Humanities and Social Sciences

By Beverly Ververs

In a recent article, I explained how your resume objective is your "sales pitch;" it identifies the work you are seeking and why you are qualified to do that work. Some of those qualifications might be "transferable skills."

So, what are these transferable skills and how does one acquire them?

Transferable skills are abilities that might have been acquired through course work, volunteer work, previous jobs, training, or through general life experience. Transferable skills are just that, skills that may be useful across a number of occupations.

These skills are not "technical skills," meaning they are not specific to a particular type of job or career field. Examples of transferable skills are: Communication Skills (listening, public speaking, negotiating, foreign language proficiency, persuading), Analytical Skills (problem solving, evaluating, planning, critical thinking), Leadership Abilities (motivating, directing, initiating), Information Management Skills (knowledge of relevant computer software, analyzing data, research), Project Management (scheduling, time management, organizing, detail- oriented, planning, prioritizing), Teamwork (collaboration, compromise, supportive, cooperative). This listing is by no means exhaustive.  You can Google search listings of transferable skills if you need more examples.

The social sciences and humanities are rich sources for developing transferable skills due to the nature of the subjects, the type of assignments associated with the course work, and practicum fieldwork, internships.