Identifying transferable skills; a core ingredient of a successful career change

Today’s guest post is from Sian Case of Nail That Job.  With a small and friendly support team, they can help you at every stage of your job search journey.

I’m a recruiter and trainer of recruiters who also supports job seekers from a wide range of industries to present themselves effectively to prospective employers.

I think that most job seekers are aware that they have transferable skills but are rarely confident about identifying or describing them clearly. This is vital when you are looking for work in new fields and have to convince a recruiter that you can achieve tasks in unfamiliar settings.

Let’s start with a definition: transferable skills are effective behaviours and application of knowledge and understanding that you have learned from all your life experiences so far. You are used to displaying them in one particular context and are perfectly capable of transferring them to new contexts.

I often recommend the STAR technique, described in Wendy’s blog on CV writing, part 2:
Situation – describe the situation/issue you were dealing with
Task – what, specifically, did you have to do?
Action- what action did you take?
Result – what was the outcome/impact for your organisation/team/customer/end user of your service?

I’ve found that a useful way to identify transferable skills is to apply the STAR format to 4 or 5 examples of achievements from life experiences, not work experiences. I’ve heard some cracking achievements described from time spent on travelling, childcare, supporting elderly/vulnerable relatives, voluntary work, organising social activities, running sports or interest societies, local community campaigning, etc.

The key learning from this exercise is to discover just how many core work skills, (e.g. prioritising, decision making, managing stress, planning and organising, influencing skills, leadership experience, team working, budgeting, etc.) you learned in a non-work context and currently use those skills daily in paid employment. It also demonstrates to a potential employer that you understand how to assess, describe and evaluate the transferable skills you have to offer and that you are still learning.  You have the capacity to build your skills further in new contexts in response to new demands.

I’d really encourage all job seekers who are looking to change direction significantly to build at least one core skill into your CV that you first practised in a non- work environment. Try it and see how it enhances the issues of flexibility and versatility on your CV.

Sian Case

Email:  Phone: 01789 740948


  • >Transferable Skills (
  • Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics (
  • Writing Your CV Part 2 Making Choices (
  • Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees! (

2 thoughts on “Identifying transferable skills; a core ingredient of a successful career change”

  1. Pingback: Job Search – the positive mental attitude that wins! « Leaving the Public Sector
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