Several times over the past few days, I've been seeing references in articles and online forums about "transferable skills" on resumes.
I think people have a misunderstanding of what a transferable skill is and how to portray it on a resume. A professional skill is something related to your job/career or industry that can be seen as an asset to take to another job or industry. A common example is people management. If you have learned how to manage a staff, including both formal development and training and also on-the-job experience (basically because you have *done* it), that is something quantifiable that you can demonstrate easily on a resume. The key to this example for your resume is that it is *quantifiable*. You can tell when, how many, what kind, and how your successful performance was measured and rewarded.
Many "soft skills" are considered transferable skills. And while this is true, you have to remember what a recruiter and hiring manager are looking for: solid, detailed examples of what you bring to the table *as an employee in a specific job*. While a job description often lists specific soft skills as desirable or even necessary for a successful candidate, that does not mean it is either appropriate or even advisable for those raw skills to be considered part of your skill set on your resume as stand-alone details.
For example, let's say a job description calls for strong organizational skills. This should not be taken to mean that this is a key word that I, as a recruiter, am going to use in my candidate search and evaluation process. What I am going to look for are detailed examples of projects, positions, and accomplishments which demonstrate that you possess this skill.
Let's say you are an administrative professional. To show me your organizational skills, I will look for action verbs in context with your job history such as "plan" and "execute". I'll expect to see projects or functions such as calendar management, event planning, budget and expense reporting. The key is to give me a picture of those experiences and responsibilities on the job that require you to have organizational skills to succeed and excel in your profession.
When you are looking at job descriptions, be very conscious of specifics. If a job description mentions something that is as applicable to how you manage your personal/home life as it is to your job, chances are it is concept that you need to identify with very concrete and detailed examples to illustrate them. "Good communication skills" are as crucial in how you deal with your spouse or partner as they are to how you handle your business relationships with your manager and colleagues. But the situations in which you exercise those skills and navigate misunderstandings or conflict are vastly different.
I've said it before but it bears repeating: show, don't tell.
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