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How to uncover your hidden and transferable skills

by Jennifer Harper

What do you think of when people ask ‘what are your skills’? Your automatic response maybe ‘I don’t know’, or you may think of a couple, such as communication and being organised. Everybody has skills. But not everybody recognises them.

In order to make the most of your job search, it is paramount that you uncover your skills, and fully recognise those skills that are transferable and can be used in many different roles.

Here, we will help you to think about your skills, and understand their relevance when applying for jobs.


So what are Skills?

Skills are your abilities – or talents – that help you to carry out a task (whether that is a job or a life role). It is your skills that will enable you to complete tasks, plan ahead, or make decisions.


What are Transferable Skills?

Your transferable skills are all of those abilities and talents that you already have that can be used in a different job role. For instance, Communication is essential for most jobs. Time-Keeping also is generally crucial for most jobs, as is being Reliable.


How do I identify my Transferable Skills?

In order to uncover your skills – and especially transferable skills – it is essential to take some time to really think about your previous experiences, whether a job, a voluntary role, while studying, or even at home. For example, you may have helped out at your child’s Brownies/Scouts. Or you may have volunteered at a Foodbank. Or perhaps you worked in a shop for a while. Or maybe you organised a charity fundraiser.

In each of your examples consider:

  • What did I learn from that experience?
  • What tasks did I have to complete?
  • What did I achieve in my role?

Your answers may include things like:

  • I talked to and helped customers. (Communication and Customer Service)
  • I staffed the till and tidied shelves. (Honest and Trustworthy, IT Skills, Adaptable, Communication and Customer Service)
  • I planned events for the children. (Organisation, Planning, Communication, Team-working, Responsible)
  • I had to organise and make a list of customer deliveries. (Organisation, Leadership, Decision-making, Problem-Solving, Time-management, Research)
  • I had to lead the children in games. (Leadership, Communication, Presentation Skills, Team-working, Empathy and Patience)

You will see that we have highlighted some of the skills from each task in brackets. Use this as an example and work on similar situations from your own experiences.

Your Skills may include:

  • Problem-Solving
  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Organisational Skills
  • Planning
  • Team-working
  • Leadership
  • Decision-making
  • Time-management
  • IT Skills
  • Honest and Trust-worthy
  • Presentation Skills
  • Empathy
  • Research Skills
  • Analysis
  • Resilient
  • Adaptable
  • Language Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Interviewing Skills
  • People Management
  • Patience
  • Reliable
  • Responsible
  • Budgeting
  • Initiative
  • Follow direction


How do I show my skills on my CV?

You may have to amend your CV for each job application you make, ensuring that you include the skills mentioned in the Job Description. This means the language you use is really important – sign up to Stay Nimble to read an article for more on that here.

Using the same examples from above, here is how you can incorporate your skills into your CV by being specific and using positive language:

  • I assisted customers with queries, helped them select and purchase goods, and dealt with customer complaints in a timely and professional manner.
  • I operated the tills and credit card transactions, cashed up, completed necessary paperwork, and kept merchandise orderly and neat at all times.
  • I liaised with the team leaders and planned a variety of inspiring and educational events for the children that met with the group’s policies and procedures.
  • I worked with the stock and delivery managers and organised customer delivery lists that took into consideration geographical location and requested delivery time slots.
  • I lead children aged 5-7 in fun and educational games, which involved planning ahead, organising resources and delivering the session within a tight timeframe.

Tip: Make notes when identifying your skills. Write down your examples for CV, and use these as the basis for talking about your skills in an interview.

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