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Ask a Resume Writer: How Do I Showcase Transferable Skills?

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated December 18, 2017

"I'm looking to make a career change, and keep hearing about transferable skills. Do they matter, and how can I showcase them on my resume?"

Ask any business executive about transferable skills, and they'll tell you the same thing: not only are they important when making a career change, but essential to getting ahead. Once you reach a certain level, your hard-line training and education take a backseat to things like:

  • Managing Change. Entire industries are being disrupted like never before. Can you navigate these waters successfully?
  • Communication. Can you build relationships, manage conflict, and influence varied audiences?
  • Leadership. Can you coalesce people around a vision for the future?
  • "Just in Time" Learning. Are you skilled at rapidly gathering ONLY the information necessary to execute quickly?
  • Complex Problem Solving. Can you find the opportunity in adversity?

So now let's break down how to communicate skills like this on your resume:

1. Identify the Key Transferable Skills You Need to Highlight

Use a resource like O*Net to quickly look up your targeted position and get a breakdown of essential transferable skills.

Now spend some time thoroughly assessing the transferable skills you currently possess. In most cases, you'll have at least 50% of those required by your targeted position.

Ask yourself: What are all the skills I need to do my current job? Write them out.

Now review your list and circle those skills which correlate with your targeted position.

Finally, underline those circled skills which can be proven on your resume. These are the ones you need to focus on.

2. Show, Don't Tell in Accomplishments

The CAR technique is a great way to to break down transferable skills into accomplishments that really sing on resumes. You must tie down transferable skills with accomplishments, or else it'll just feel like fluff.

For each highlighted skill, ask yourself:

Challenge. What big challenges did you face in this area? Think entire career, not just your current job.

Actions: What specific actions did you take to overcome them?

Results: What was the impact of your work?

Here are some examples of CAR-based transferable skills accomplishments:

-Managing Change: Mitigated the effects of a $42M revenue shortfall as a result of new policy affecting direct marketing efforts. Led multi-pronged digital marketing campaign which cut a $42M loss into a $5M loss in 8 months.

-Leadership:  Transformed staff retention rates through ground-development of a "Career Pathways" program, initially rolled out across Sales & Marketing prior to company-wide adoption.

3. Utilize a Resume Structure that Plays To Your Strengths

The bigger the career change you're attempting to make, the MORE important a role transferable skills will play.

If you're looking to make a more-or-less linear shift upwards, say from Senior Marketing Manager to Marketing Director, then a Chronological Resume Format will be your best best. Here's its structure:


Opening Section

Highlight 3-4 key attributes that directly address the pain points of employers.

Keyword Section

Keep this very industry-centric. A Marketing Director would have terms like Brand Management, E-commerce, Social Media, Web Analytics, Direct Marketing, and others here.

Professional Experience Section.

Jobs here are listed most recent to least. For each relevant position, start with a "Scope Statement" that highlights the bottom-line impact you had, then back it up with concrete, bulleted accomplishments.

Education & Closing Sections

Pay special attention here to any advanced training you took in your field, relevant volunteer work, anything else to further establish credibility as a leader in your "niche".

If you're looking to transition back to a career path you were previously on, then a Selective Resume Format will probably be the most effective.


Opening Section & Keyword Section

Both of these sections should be tightly focused on what you want, not what you've been doing recently. For example, if you're looking to get back into a high-level Process Improvement role, but have spent the past few years teaching, then what you're highlighting here is 100% about what you can do on the Process Improvement front. Collect and utilize relevant job postings to help focus your efforts here.

Professional Experience Section

Use the "Scope Statement" and accomplishments approach for only those positions that are directly aligned with your job target. Everything else can be consolidated into bulleted sections (ex. Professional Experience 2008-2014).

Education & Closing Sections

Start by highlighting job target-relevant details here.

Finally, if you're looking to move into a position that you have little-to-no experience in, then a Skills-Based Resume might be the best option.


Summary of Skills Section

This is designed to showcase key skills, and cherry-pick accomplishments throughout your career to support them. Here's an example:


  • Developed 5K subscriber email list for XYX College newsletter, significantly impacting turnout for Alumni events.
  • Supported social media advertising efforts on ad hoc basis for [company name], including strategy sessions with Marketing team and regular tracking and analysis of performance.  

Professional Experience Section

Simply list job title, company name, dates and location for each position.

Education & Closing Sections

Think about value-adds here. If you've done anything that supports your current target in a volunteer capacity, now is the time to provide some details about it!


Anish Majumdar is an internationally recognized Career Coach, Executive Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Expert. His posts and videos reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month. 

Take part in Anish's free webinar training on Generating New Career Opportunities ON DEMAND in the Age of LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2nT3Tfc


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