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If you have created a CV and feel that it is a little on the sparse side, you can add more detail by writing about your transferable skills. You do not need to have completed paid work experience to have relevant skills that will be of interest to employers. Begin by identifying which of your skills are most beneficial to a future employment.

What is a transferable skill?

Transferable skills are those skills that an individual can apply to adapt to a new job role or setting.  This set of skills don’t belong to a sector, industry or job; they are general skills that can be transferred between jobs, departments and industries (hence the name).

These skills are valued by employers because they can be useful in so many ways for a variety of job sectors and roles. Problem solving is a transferable skill for example. It can be useful in the legal profession when faced with a new or complicated case. It would be a useful skill to have as an architect when working with clients and making their vision into a reality.

Volunteering, being an ambassador, fund raising can teach you transferable skills which you can go on to use again and again.

Read the Job Description

A great CV is tailored specifically to a role and so your first job is to carefully look at the job description. The skills and qualities the employer is looking for are likely listed out within a job description or person specification. Pull out all these skills, in a separate document if possible and highlight those you believe you have. Now have a think about how you are going to support your claim with evidence.

Part-time work

Target Jobs has an excellent series of articles that help you to draw out the skills you will have gained from casual part time jobs such as delivery jobsbar work and retail jobs. I myself, have had many jobs dealing with the public and demanding customers! My experiences on a supermarket checkout in the lead up to Christmas developed my patience, composure under pressure and customer service skills. Selling your part-time work experience to employers has more.

Extra-curricular activities

Sports clubs provide more than exercise; being involved with club sports improves your teamwork skills, along with your ability to regularly commit to something. If you are involved with organising matches and training sessions, it will help you to develop your leadership, communication and administrative abilities. Fundraising, charity work and volunteering helps you to refine your problem-solving skills, creativity and can also provide evidence that you can meet targets.

Subject societies and profession-oriented societies offer a mixture of social events and opportunities for professional development and networking. If you are the treasurer, you are developing an eye for detail, being methodical and handling a budget. As the club president or vice president you are making decisions and maybe handling disputes. The club secretary is developing administrative and organisational skills. Being actively involved in a club or society also provides evidence of a genuine interest in your subject or the profession (e.g. Law Society); it can also help you to be better-prepared for employers’ recruitment processes.

Reflect on past successes and challenges

Think about all the times in your life when you have felt stretched, challenged or have completed something you’re really proud of. Will any of these experiences demonstrate to an employer that you are adaptable, can set yourself a goal and take steps to achieve it? It doesn’t need to be anything momentous – it just needs to show your potential.

Academic experience

You are gaining employability skills whilst you study your course. Check out the programme and unit catalogue for examples relevant to your course.

Physics with study year abroad for example, lists the skills you will gain for doing this unit as:

Written communication, numeracy, data acquisition, handling, and analysis, Information Technology, Problem Solving, working as part of a group, practical laboratory skills, project planning/management.


Match the job description with your transferable skills  to show you’re a great fit for the role, regardless of previous experience.

Posted in: Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints


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  • Some excellent, pragmatic advice here!