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Identifying Your Transferable Skills

Employers look for transferable skills as they select candidates to fill job vacancies. Learn how to identify your transferable skills and market them on your resume, in your cover letter and during your interview to assist you in getting a job.

Chances are you've held a variety of unrelated positions during your mobile military life. You probably have transferable skills that qualify you for positions that may seem an unlikely fit at first glance. Understanding how to articulate your skills to show an employer why you are a great choice for their position may be confusing at first, but with a little practice, you can become a pro at helping them connect the dots. This ability will help you throughout your career, particularly as you start your career, change career fields or re-enter the workforce.

Transferable skills are useful in many different situations or jobs and typically aren't specific to a job or career. You may have acquired transferable skills through coursework, jobs, internships, volunteering or life experiences. Transferable skills can be your connection to a new job because they may qualify you for a job even if you've never held the job title.

Transferable skills might include communication, research or planning, organization, management and leadership. They are usually separated into two categories: soft skills and hard skills.

Soft skills include skills like communication, critical thinking, relationship building and teamwork. If you wrote proposals in one position, writing grants in another position should be an easy transition. If you made presentations on health care products in a past position, with training you should be able to make presentations on computer software products.

Hard skills include skills like Microsoft Word, Excel, typing, mechanical ability and equipment operating. If you can create budgets in Excel in one position, you should be able to manage inventory in Excel in your next position. If you fixed automobile engines at one job, your mechanical abilities should be useful in an appliance repair position.

Suggestions to assist you in identifying your transferable skills include the following recommendations.

  • Check out the Wisconsin Job Center's Transferable Skills for help identifying your transferable skills.
  • Use the situation, task, action, result, or the STAR, method to help you identify additional skills to match to the job description. Write down a situation you handled successfully, highlight a specific task you took on, describe the actions you took to solve the problem and describe or quantify the results you achieved.
  • Extract key skills. Compare your resume with the actual job description. Match the key skill requirements from the job description with your key skills.

Once you've identified your transferable skills, learn to tie benefits or achievements to the skill to separate yourself from the competition and attract the attention of the employer.

Here are some additional resources to help you learn about your strengths and what you enjoy doing.

Review the resources and assessments listed above to identify your skills and develop a better understanding of how to market yourself and your transferable skills to potential employers. If you have questions, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to speak with a SECO career coach.

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