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What Are Transferable Skills and Why Are They Important?

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Throughout your professional and personal life, you have picked up habits, abilities, and skills that make you the employee you are today. These are called transferable skills.

They are the skills that allow an eager, younger graduate to land their first “real job.” Or an experienced people manager to make a radical career change. Or a parent who has been out of the workforce for months or years to return successfully. 


What Are Transferable Skills?

In the simplest terms, transferable skills allow you to succeed in your role, whatever it may be, as they are skills that are needed independent of the job function. In addition, they allow individuals to step into roles, industries, or departments for which they may not otherwise have an exhaustive list of requirements. 

Transferable skills increase through experience, time, and development opportunities, such as training, one-to-one coaching, and mentoring. By time and work experience, we mean that you have been building these skills since you took your first job at a local fast-food restaurant or volunteered as a camp counselor, and you will continue to hone them for the rest of your life.


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Transferable skills Examples

Looking at as many studies and articles as we did while writing this blog, you will find commonalities among the lists. As such, here is a list of transferable skills that appeared more than once, and for a good reason.

  1. Adaptability and Resilience
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Initiative
  4. Resourcefulness
  5. Creativity and Innovation
  6. Leadership
  7. Emotional Intelligence
  8. Communication
  9. Teamwork and Collaboration


Adaptability and resilience 

In the wake of COVID-19, any resembling feeling of security or predictability is pretty much gone. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, let alone six months or six years from now. In the face of this, employees today who are adaptable and resilient are the ones who will keep businesses moving forward even in the face of uncertainty. 


Critical Thinking 

Critical thinking skills in the workplace mean using all credible sources of information available to understand a situation or problem and ultimately make an informed decision or judgment. As you can imagine, this is a transferable skill that pays off to have in employees at all levels as it drives innovation, productivity, and often competitiveness in the market.



An employee who takes initiative can assess a situation, problem, or project and initiate action before they ever need to be told to do so. But, of course, initiative should be taken within reason and with regard to established boundaries. 



A resourceful employee who can find a way to achieve a goal with their time, staff, technology, or budget is valuable to any organization or department. 


Creativity and Innovation

Creativity and innovation are not just skills reserved for graphic designers or product developers. A creative and innovative employee looks at a problem and can see a solution others may not have, which is transferable throughout one’s career.



Anyone can show leadership. No title is required. Those with leadership skills take charge of situations, easily convey their vision and direction, coach team members, and keep an eye on the big picture to ensure professional goals are achieved. Leadership is a transferable skill that any organization will highly value, regardless of the job you hold. 


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence combines the ability to identify, harness, and manage emotions. To demonstrate emotional intelligence, related skills such as empathy, self-awareness, and influence, are essential for those in roles managing people




Communication skills always have been and always will be one of the top transferable skills. But with more people working from home than ever and in teams, the flow of information is imperative to keep businesses moving. Therefore, a good communicator will speak with clarity regardless of whether they are on Zoom or face-to-face.


Teamwork and COllaboration

According to multiple Deloitte studies, organizations have identified the benefits of team-centric and network-based organizational models and are working to adapt them for themselves. As this way of working becomes even more prevalent, team-focused and collaborative individuals will be highly valued.


Why Are Transferable Skills IMportant? 

Transferable skills are universally essential. They contribute to your success and the success of a team, customer, or organization. In addition, they allow you to take control over your career path and ease the stress experienced in transitional times, such as a promotion or career change.

In a way, these are skills that never “go out of style.” Instead, they will follow and support your success professionally, so long as you invest and put intentional effort into honing them. Transferable skills are developed by enrolling in a training program related to a specific skill, tapping into a professional coach, or participating in any development opportunities your organization offers.

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