In this blog, I would like to discuss the idea of developing “transferable skills”. I am going to share the insights from the article: “What Do Employers Really Want? Top Skills and Values Employers Seek from Job-Seekers” by Dr. Randall S. Hansen and Dr. Katherine Hansen. They refer to “transferable skills” as “critical employability skills” – skills needed to be successful in your current employment.
A transferable skill can be used in many disciplines or subjects. For example, say you are good writer, an employer may hire you to write a user manual for an application even though you have no prior experience with the application; they figure to train you with the application and then leverage your skill in writing to write the manual. So “transferable skills” are your basic foundation, which employers build upon as they teach you the intricacies of their business.
The use of “transferable skills” works well with a skills based approach because connections can be made as you progress through the development of your skills. Since there are connections, it is possible to go through the four stages of the skill based approach: planning, building, presenting, and validating. You can learn “transferable skills” by taking a course or doing a project at work, and then use them to develop more finely tuned skills later in your career.
The diagram below illustrates how a professional might plan to become an economist by developing various skills (the blue dots can be considered “transferable skills”). This illustration is drawn from my experiences working as an economist earlier in my career; with little professional experience, I had to first develop “transferable skills” before I could learn the more finely tuned skill of economic analysis.
Dr. Randall Hansen and Dr. Katherine Hansen make a list of these “transferable skills” or what they call “employability skills” (and in their article provide verbiage you can use as line-items on your professional website or resume). The following table is a summary of the list (in their words):
Traditional (Transferable) Skills Most Sought After By Employers
|Communication Skills||Listening, verbal, and written.|
|Analytic/Research Skills||Assess a situation, understanding varying perspectives, and gathering data.|
|Computer/Technical Literacy||Understand basic hardware and software, email, social media, and networking.|
|Flexibility/Adaptability/Managing Multiple Projects||Multi-tasking.|
|Interpersonal Abilities||Ability to relate to co-workers, clients, and colleagues.|
|Leadership/Management Skills||Take charge and manage co-workers|
|Planning/Organizing||Ability to design, plan, organize, and implement projects and tasks.|
|Problem Solving/Reasoning/Creativity||Find solutions to problems using your creativity, reasoning, and past experiences.|
|Teamwork||Ability to work with others|