Your transferable skills can take you anywhere

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The number of employability skills you have might surprise you.

You might think the skills listed in a job description don't exactly match yours, but there are many skills from your personal and working life you can use to get your first job or change your career.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are the skills and abilities you have developed throughout your life from experiences such as study, work, hobbies, community service and travel. These skills can be easily transferred from one job to another.

Examples of transferable skills include:

  • communication – listening to others and sharing your ideas
  • literacy and numeracy – reading, writing, measuring, counting and understanding information
  • problem solving – being willing to try to solve problems
  • organisational – being prepared and on time
  • interpersonal – being able to work well with other people.

Examples of transferable skills can be found in a range of different activities and experiences. For example, you might be given the task of peeling potatoes for a hui on a marae. This simple task involves these transferable skills:

  • communication – actively listening and following instructions
  • time management – completing a task in a given timeframe
  • teamwork – working effectively with others to complete a task
  • work style – working hard while maintaining a positive attitude.

Skills employers are looking for

There are seven skills that employers say are essential for the workplace. These are all transferable skills that you may have developed through your life experience.

  1. Positive attitude – you're calm and cheerful when things go wrong
  2. Communication – you can listen and say things clearly when you speak or write
  3. Teamwork – you can work well with other people
  4. Self-management – you're organised and always arrive on time
  5. Willingness to learn – you want to learn new things to improve your skills
  6. Thinking skills (problem solving and decision making) – you try and solve problems or can see when something won't work
  7. Resilience – you don't let problems hold you back

How to know which skills you can transfer

It's important to know what your skills are so you can update your CV, apply for jobs and get ready for job interviews. 

Once you've identified the skills you've developed from different experiences, you can then highlight which skills can be easily transferred into jobs.

Find out more


  • The University of Auckland, ‘Identify your skills’, accessed January 2019, (

Related article

Future careers are skills-focused

Engineer standing in front of a control panel writes notes on a clipboard

Continuing our future of work series – we discuss how building up your transferable skills will be the key to moving between jobs and industries in the new world of work.

Updated 3 Apr 2020