Are you on the hunt for a new job? The pandemic has changed how employers assess candidates, and transferable skills have become more important than ever. In fact, 81% of employers believe we should prioritize skills over degrees. Studies show that the next era of work will be about skills rather than pedigree, and at Merit America, we firmly believe that work experience and education should not determine someone’s earning potential.

Young person showcases transferable skills in a job interview with two other people.

The Right Job Search Strategy

Finding the right job can be tough, especially if you meet only some of the requirements. But don’t let that discourage you. As we always state in our job descriptions:

We know that women and people of color are often less likely to apply to a position if they don’t match 100% of the job qualifications. Don’t let that be the reason you miss out on this opportunity! We encourage you to apply if you can demonstrate many of these skills and competencies.

If you need more support with the job interview process or are considering a career change, here are some tips on how to highlight your transferable skills, which can be relevant across different roles and sectors.

What Are Transferable Skills?

But first, what are transferable skills? A transferable skill is characterized by the fact that it can be used in a variety of roles or professions. So these are work-related skills that you can transfer to your next job. Examples include communication, problem-solving, and self-control.

Young woman maximizes her job search strategy.

How To Highlight Transferable Skills In Interviews

Reflect upon what you do well & think of concrete examples.

Before you fill out any job application, it is essential to think through your strengths and examples of when you demonstrated those strengths. You can think of this as your “what I do best” list. For instance, if you are a teacher, you can speak to how you’ve built authentic relationships with multiple stakeholders (from children to co-teachers to parents!).

Read the job description carefully.

A robust job description should include information about the organization, the role, the primary responsibilities, and what requirements are —at Merit America, we call this section “What Makes a Successful Candidate.” As you review the job description, go back to your list of “what I do best” and see if there is alignment between the two.

Describe, give examples, and relate back to the role.

Interviewers may ask you to share your transferable skills in the interview or application, and here are three ways you can approach this question:  First, it is important to name a skill that is both on your “what you do best list” and in the job description (“I can manage multiple priorities at once”).

Then, you need to be able to share specific examples or evidence to support the fact that you have that skill (“as evidenced by my ability to attend graduate school while working full-time”). Lastly, you connect it to the role (“If I were to step into the role of the executive assistant, I would be able to utilize this skill when balancing all the executive team members’ calendars”).

Decode interview questions.

During an interview, the interviewer may ask you about a transferable skill, such as your ability to facilitate virtual webinars. Answering this type of question can be easy if you follow the “Describe, give examples, and relate back to the role” formula.

But sometimes the interviewer will phrase a question in a way that might throw you —”Tell me how you would facilitate a 200-person webinar for prospective learners.” If someone asks you a question that starts with “Tell me …,”it’s okay to ask for a moment to think since these two questions assess the same thing. Go back to your strengths, and think of one that could be an applicable example to showcase.

Share how you will learn new skills.

Most interviewers will ask you about an area of growth or where you might need support in this new role. Knowing and owning your growth areas is essential; no one expects you to know how to do everything. Name an authentic skill gap, and then share an example of the steps you took to learn something new in the past.

Interviewers are hoping you are the right candidate for the role – we are optimistic that you will join the team. Our responsibility is to assess if you have the right skills to succeed in this role. Remember, we are not looking for a purple squirrel; we are looking for people who will impact the role and organization. Good luck!

Transferable Skills Checklist

Are you still unsure which transferable skills you can highlight in a job interview? Don’t worry, we’ve put together a few examples for you to use as a guide. These are categories that you can use to brainstorm your strengths and work-related skills:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving 
  • Oral/Written Communication
  • Teamwork/Collaboration 
  • Digital Technology
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic
  • Career Management
  • Intercultural Fluency

Interested in joining our team? Check out our current Merit America job openings!