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  • Top 9 Transferable Skills

    In an uncertain job market, skills are your best security. No matter how bleak the economy, work still needs to get done and there is always someone looking for a person who can do the work well. Start thinking about what you do well by assessing your transferable skills.

    Have the ability to describe your skills

    You don’t want to boast, but to realize your personal brand you’ll need to describe your skills. In recent blogs I explored how assessing and considering your interests and values helps define and refine your personal brand. Today it’s time to think about your skills.

    Transferable skills are generic and are necessary for almost any kind of work. The good thing about transferable skills is obvious from the name; you can transfer them across diverse work opportunities. Here is my list of 9 highly transferable skills. You will need to use them all, but some will likely catch your interest and align, more than others, with your personal brand.

    Think about the role each skill plays in your career path by asking these three questions. Are you good at the skill? Do you enjoy using it? Do you want to develop it?

    The front nine

    Managing change: Change is a constant part of our daily lives. Everyone needs to spot trends and respond to new information. In a more proactive way, it is best to anticipate change and seize opportunities. Perhaps you are a change agent, one of the innovators who create change, or maybe you are skilled at moving through change or facilitating the implementation of changes. Is change your area of expertise?

    Communicating: No man (or woman) is an island and to succeed you must hear what others have to say and express your own thoughts and feelings clearly and diplomatically. If communication is key to your personal brand you may offer a multitude of services including writing, speaking, training, negotiating, persuading, coaching, or counseling.

    Leading: Eventually you will need to direct, inspire, give instruction to, be accountable for, or otherwise take a leadership role with others. If leadership is an important part of your skill set, make sure your personal brand emphasizes this.

    Learning: Learning is a life-long venture. Perhaps you are skilled at finding information, conducting research, integrating ideas, or collecting data. Those skilled at learning will keep up-to-date on current trends and technology. They won’t get left behind. Do you see learning or processing information as a key part of your brand?

    Working with numbers and data: At some point we all need to either collect, analyze, calculate, or work with numbers and data. For some people this is a necessary evil, but for others the devil is not in the details. If you are a numbers or data whiz, consider if this is important to your personal brand.

    Problem solving: Appreciative minded people would rather call this capitalizing on opportunities, but either way you look at it there are always problems to solve or situations that can be improved. If you are good at problem solving consider making this skill part of your brand. Opportunities abound for people who can solve problems and make improvements.

    Achieving results: Everyone must achieve results to succeed at work. Some people are especially adept at expediting processes to accomplish goals. If you work with high efficiency and effectiveness, this may be an important skill to emphasize in your brand.

    Working on a team: You need to work with others. Some people prefer to be independent and find the team aspects of work difficult or unrewarding. Others have a knack for harnessing human resources to build consensus, cooperation, and collaboration to produce results. They are often astute at finding ways to build relationships with just about anybody. If taking a team approach is your strong point, think of how you express this in your personal brand.

    Thinking: You need to know when to use your various thinking skills at work. The best approach to a situation might require practical, creative, global, logical, or humanistic thinking. Some people find it stimulating to think through and consider situations from various perspectives and mindsets. Usually our thinking is honed to enhance another skill. For example, you may use a humanistic approach to improve communication or teamwork or a logical approach to solve a problem.

    Assessing and developing your transferable skills will help ensure your success. Identify the combination of skills that are key to your brand. Improve your less adept skills and continue to master the ones you enjoy. It’s not boastful to diplomatically let others know about your skills and emphasize them in your personal brand.


    Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit her website.

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    Posted in Career Development, Personal Branding, Success Strategies
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    10 comments on “Top 9 Transferable Skills
    1. avatar

      Hi Donna ! Your article is spot on. Those crucial skills are here to stay whatever the new challenges and technologies we’ll face.

    2. avatar
      Donna Dunning says:

      Thanks Lilian,

      I appreciate your comment.

    3. avatar
      Yinka olaito says:

      Donna while many like to shy away from these great lists of yours, it is obvious that anyone that will succeed in personal branding journey needs to learn how to master these skills to a certain degree to excel. thanks for escalating these.

    4. avatar

      The other good thing is that thanks to blogs, social media, etc… we can see these skills being used in action by professionals, candidates. It gives a more precise view of a person. And it definitely changes the recruiting dynamics.

    5. avatar
      Donna Dunning says:

      Hello Yinka, I agree that it takes time and effort to position yourself for success. Thanks for your contribution to the post.

    6. avatar
      Donna Dunning says:

      Hello Lilian, Good point. Demonstrating competent use of transferable skills is an important part of the recruiting process.

    7. avatar
      JW Blanchard says:

      Thanks for the article. I agree completely with your list. Do you have any suggestions on how people might be able to professionally quantify or qualify their skills in such a manner that they are able to demonstrate their abilities at the appropriate time?

    8. avatar
      Donna Dunning says:

      Hi JW,
      There are a number of ways to demonstrate skills and abilities. Three main ways include formal educational credentials, portfolios or samples, and shared experiences. Formal education demonstrates you have learned specific concepts and content related to a field. Portfolios or samples show people what you can do. It your work is abstract rather than concrete, recommendations and endorsements can serve this purpose. Shared experiences, such as working with someone doing paid or volunteer work, provides the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities directly. Think about what you want others to know you can do. This will help you find appropriate ways to demonstrate that ability. I am writing more about this in an upcoming blog.

    9. avatar

      I’m wondering how best to incorporate these 9 into my resume… Very cool..

    10. avatar
      Donna Dunning says:

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comment. A functional resume, one organized by skill groups rather than by a chronological history of your work experiences, tends to highlight skills. Use transferable skills as headings, making sure the skills are relevant to the work you are seeking. To pick the skills think carefully about the work you are looking for and figure out the 3-4 most important skills the employer would want that worker to have. After figuring out the most relevant skills create 4-5 bullets under each skill heading demonstrating your competence in a concrete way with numbers or scope. For example briefly describe a problem you solved or accomplishments/results you have achieved. if you have and want to show a solid work history in the resume include a Work Experience heading listing your previous work as a series of single lines with title, employer, and dates.

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