SOAS University of London

Transferable skills

Transferable skills are skills that transfer readily from one job to another. 

Work experience, paid or voluntary, could provide a good opportunity to develop and apply your skills, increase your self-awareness and build some commercial awareness. A retail job or bar work can give you excellent experience as well as examples to discuss during an interview.

Transferable skills include:

  • communication – orally, in writing or electronically
  • teamwork – being a constructive team member, contributing practically to the success of the team
  • leadership - being able to motivate and encourage others, whilst taking the lead
  • initiative - ability to see opportunities and to set and achieve goals
  • problem solving - thinking things through in a logical way in order to determine key issues, often including creative thinking
  • flexibility/adaptability - ability to handle change and adapt to new situations
  • self-awareness - knowing your strengths and skills and having the confidence to put these across
  • commitment/motivation - having energy and enthusiasm in pursuing projects
  • interpersonal skills - ability to relate well to others and to establish good working relationships
  • numeracy - cash handling, competence and understanding of numerical data, statistics and graphs

Questions to ask yourself

  • Which of these skills do I already have and how can I describe them through meaningful examples?
  • Are there skills that I don't have? Is so, how can I acquire them?
  • Have I developed skills during my course, such as analytical, teamwork, organisational, problem solving and communication skills? 
  • Have I developed skills during extracurricular activities and interests that I have pursued while at university? Participating in extracurricular activities can help develop other key skills.

Things to do

  • Create a record of the skills you have used or developed with an accompanied list of examples for each one. This will be useful when preparing for interviews and application forms.
  • Ask tutors and previous employers about your skills. Ask them to provide you with feedback about your skills, your strengths and areas where they feel you could improve.
  • Research the companies in a sector that interests you to understand which skills they consider important. You can do this by looking at graduate careers sections of employers’ websites.
  • Take a look at our CV and covering letter sections to get an idea of how to best describe your skills.