Employers are looking for these transferable skills and you probably already have them.
If you’re a student or recent graduate you probably haven’t had loads of experience in your desired field yet, which might leave you feeling a bit low on confidence when applying for jobs. This problem can be made worse if you’re from an underrepresented group. You may not have had the same support mechanisms or the same contacts to help you get a foot in the door.
Luckily, this is where transferable skills come in and you probably already have some of them up your sleeve, you just don’t know it yet. This is especially the case if you’ve had to overcome barriers in your life due to poverty or discrimination (think resilience, determination, work ethic for example).
Transferable skills can really help your job application to stand out, so by knowing what they are and what transferable skills you possess you can easily reach your goals.
We’re also giving you the lowdown on some incredible development programmes that are specifically aimed at students and young adults from underrepresented groups.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are skills that you can develop from any experience, not just in jobs. As a student, you’ll pick up a lot of soft skills throughout your degree that can be applied across various different job sectors and roles.
A lot of the time, you might not even realise that you’re learning soft skills day-to-day while studying, but you can use these skills to your advantage. By picking out your transferable skills and highlighting them in your CV or in an interview, you can prove to employers that you’re the right person for the job even if you don’t have any direct experience in that industry yet.
Why are they important?
The majority of jobs regardless of industry will want their employees to have certain skills. Candidates who are organised and have had experience working in a team and independently are desirable for any sector, and transferable skills can help you to be more productive and collaborative in the workplace which is very attractive to potential employers.
Examples of transferable skills
If you’re picking out skills to highlight on your CV or mention in an interview, here are the best transferable skills:
Every employer wants to see that you’ll be able to handle yourself when it comes to working with other people. While you’re probably not going to be jumping straight into a manager role after uni, showing that you can effectively manage a team of people shows that you’ll probably be able to naturally slot into the team and feel confident sharing your ideas and taking charge when needed.
If you’re part of a society or committee this is a great thing to shout about in your CV as it shows that you’ve had experience organising something and pulling off being in charge. Other leadership examples in uni could be taking charge of a group project or volunteer work.
2. Time management and organisation
No one wants to hire someone who is constantly going to be late or struggle to stick to deadlines. Luckily, as a student you would’ve had plenty of practice juggling deadlines and multiple projects at once which is a great example of time management to talk to employers about.
If you get involved in committees, societies, volunteering AND are doing your degree this shows that you have no problem in managing your time well in order to juggle your responsibilities and this can be a very attractive transferable skill to employers.
This is a transferable skill that you probably hear about all the time, but what exactly is it? In pretty much every job, you’re going to run into problems or hurdles that could block the way at some point and employers want to know that you’re going to be able to get around this.
Working can be stressful and if you can handle difficult situations, calmly and approach them with logic rather than panicking you’re probably good at problem-solving. Problem-solving basically means trying to come up with a fast solution by using communication and quick thinking- if you’re good at thinking outside of the box you’ve got it covered.
Some examples of problem-solving in uni could be projects you’ve worked on as a group or on your own which needed a lot of quick thinking to get them to work out.
4. Computer literacy
Employers want to know that they’re not going to have to teach you the basics when you’re starting a job, as training someone completely from scratch can take time and often there will be another candidate who already knows these things, and is, therefore, more well suited to the job than you.
Luckily, most degrees will enable you to have a thorough understanding of computer programmes and tools such as Powerpoint, Excel and Word so you won’t need to be trained on this on the job. If there are certain programmes that you know could be beneficial to your industry that you don’t know how to use like Photoshop or Lightroom, you could take a free online course to advance your skills ahead of your graduation.
Being able to communicate effectively is one of the many transferable skills that you’ll pick up at uni without even realising. Having good communication skills means that you’ll be able to effectively work with your colleagues across a variety of platforms, such as on the phone, over email and in person.
Writing is one of the most important skills for the majority of industries, which could be in the form of emails, financial documents or reports. Whatever it is you’re writing, you’ll need to show that you have a good grasp of grammar and spelling, and if you’re doing a degree writing is definitely something you’ll have had practice in!
Speaking is another part of communication that’s important, employers will want to see that you’re confident in sharing your ideas with others or presenting to a group, and group work and presentations in uni are all things that can help to prepare you for this.
It’s very likely that whatever job you have you’ll either be regularly talking on the phone, in meetings or presenting so if you can show that you have had the practice of doing this, employers will feel more confident about hiring you!
Skills development programmes and courses
These programmes are run by a range of charities and businesses whose aim it is to see more young people from underrepresented backgrounds reach their potential.
Circl Future Leaders Programme
Circl is a leadership development programme that focuses on teaching coaching skills. Coaching is perhaps the most important skill for a leader, it will enable you to ask the right questions, listen actively and empower both yourself and others to make decisions.
You’ll be paired with a professional and, over the course of the 6 sessions, both of you will learn how to develop empathy, manage conflict, ask effective questions, set clear goals among other key skills. What’s more, you’ll gain a professional leadership qualification worth £1500.
Applications for their next Circl Future Leaders programme open on the 20th June 2022.
To apply, you need to be aged 18-25 and be from an under-represented background. Find out more here.
Arrival Education have delivered over 10,000 hours of development programmes to young people and students from diverse backgrounds since 2003.
Join their Arrival Network to receive free skills development through one of their incredible corporate partners including GSK, Tesco, Coutts and Skanska.
Upreach helps disadvantaged students from across the UK realise their potential through highly personalised support programmes. They have three different development programmes- Rise, Aim and Sector Springboard. They last for different lengths of time but all provide personalised support and their workshops will provide the essential skills you need to succeed.
Find out more here.
Bright Network aims to connect you with the opportunities, insights and advice to succeed. With more than 600,000+ members, over 75% of their membership is state-educated and 40% come from an ethnic minority. They provide free courses through their Bright Network Academy on topics covering job application processes, sector overviews and core career skills like communication and problem-solving.
Find out more here.
Once you’ve honed these skills you’ll want to ensure they stand out on your CV. Check out our CV writing tips here.