Transferable Skills: A Game-Changer for Your Hiring Process

Transferable Skills: A Game-Changer for Your Hiring Process

In today’s rapidly changing job market, it’s more important than ever for companies to stay ahead of the curve by attracting and retaining the best talent. This is precisely why so many employers have turned to prioritise transferable skills in the hiring process.

Here’s what you can expect from this blog:

  • Why transferable skills are important in today’s job market
  • Examples of transferable skills and how they can benefit organizations
  • The difference between transferable skills and job-specific skills
  • Tips for assessing transferable skills in candidates during the hiring process
  • Strategies for developing transferable skills in existing employees

What are transferable skills?

Also often referred to as “portable skills” , are skills that enable employees to more easily adapt to new roles, work environments, and challenges. These skills can be applied across different industries, job environments, and fields, as they can be transferred from one job to another. 

5 Types of Transferable skills

Basically, the types of skills cover all (soft) skills that are central to occupational competence which can be applied to all sectors and at all levels, including leadership, communication, teamworks, time management and personal attributes  The list of important transferable skills needed to build a future-proof workforce can be as long as one’s imagination allows. So, what are some other examples of transferable skills? 

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Communication: This includes written and verbal communication, as well as active listening skills and presenting skills.
  • Teamwork: This involves collaborating with others, building relationships, and resolving conflicts.
  • Problem-solving: This includes critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to find solutions to complex problems.
  • Time management: This involves planning, prioritizing, and organizing tasks and projects.
  • Leadership skills: This includes the ability to motivate and inspire others, as well as lead by example.


Transferable vs. job-specific skills

Transferable skills and job-specific skills are both important to different extents serving as screening criteria. But what is the main difference between transferable and job-specific skills?

  • Job-specific skills are important for certain roles but not sufficient to represent the whole picture of candidates’ potential. Job-specific skills allow people to stay in their profession according to what they have learnt before. These job-specific skills are usually learnt explicitly by taking formal courses or on-site training. 
  • On the other hand, transferable skills serve as a signal to employers on how well a potential talent can integrate themselves into organisations, regardless of junior or senior positions. 

Read more: Transferable Skills vs. Job-Specific Skills: Which is More Important When Hiring?

Why are transferable skills important?

I see 3 major trends in recruitment right now: the Talent Shortage is getting bigger as the labour force is shrinking; due to technological innovations, jobs are changing drastically; internal mobility is getting more critical in an uncertain economy. All 3 trends require a similar change in our view on hiring: Hiring for transferable skills, rather than job-specific skills.

portrait picture of Charlotte Melkert

 Already by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum:

  • 85 million jobs will disappear
  • 97 million new jobs will arise
  • 50% of the workforce will need to reskill.


Companies want employees who can quickly adapt to new technologies, processes, and organisational structures, and transferable skills are essential in meeting these demands. 

On top of that:

  1. Transferable skills are exactly that – transferable. Meaning they are adaptable to various roles and situations, making candidates more versatile and capable of taking on new challenges.
  2. Candidates with transferable skills can help to build more diverse and effective teams by bringing a range of perspectives and experiences to the table.
  3. Transferable skills help to create a more agile and responsive workforce, allowing organizations to quickly adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs.
  4. Focusing on transferable skills can help to identify candidates who have the potential to grow and develop within the organization, making them more valuable long-term assets.

Benefits of transferable skills

It is clear that transferable skills-based hiring is increasing in popularity, however, why are transferable skills the hottest and most sought-after skills on the market? 

In fact,  transferable skills can lead to a multitude of benefits throughout the entirety of the employee life cycle – from attraction to offboarding: improved diversity and inclusion; wider talent pool; reduced training costs; lower turnover rates; improved productivity; positive impact on employer brand and many more.

How to assess transferable skills

Assessing transferable skills in candidates can be challenging, as these skills are often more difficult to measure than technical or job-specific skills. There are three most commonly used ways of assessing transferable skills in candidates: interviews, assessments, simulations & roleplay. 

Assessing transferable skills in interviews

By asking targeted questions and probing for details, you gain insight into a candidate’s ability to apply transferable skills in different contexts. 

Assessments for assessing transferable skills

Assessments can also be used to measure a candidate’s potential for developing transferable skills. Personality tests or cognitive ability tests, for example, can provide valuable information about a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, which can inform decisions about how to develop their skills. 

Assessing transferable skills through simulation & roleplay

Another way to assess transferable skills is through simulation and roleplay exercises. These exercises are designed to create real-world scenarios where candidates can apply their transferable skills in a practical setting. 

How to develop transferable skills in existing employees

Developing transferable skills in existing employees can be just as important as assessing them during the hiring process. The most efficient way to do this is by:

  1. Identifying key transferable skills in current employees by taking a look at top performance indicators per department and sometimes even more specifically per role. As well, as identifying any potential skill gaps.
  2. Offering training and development opportunities to help employees develop transferable skills crucial to their success in a role. This can also be done by encouraging employees to take on new projects and assignments to help them develop new skills.
  3. Giving cross-functional collaboration a go. This can help employees develop new skills and perspectives while also promoting teamwork and communication across the organization.

Transferable skills are the foundation for the future of work

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, transferable skills are more important than ever before. Hiring employees with transferable skills can provide a number of benefits for your organization, from increased diversity to greater adaptability and flexibility.

At Equalture, we prioritize transferable skills in our hiring process. Here’s what Zsuzsanna Békéssy, our Sales Development Representative has to say about this:

Making a career switch from youth care to commercial seemed pretty wild to me - especially if I would have had to rely on traditional methods when applying. Fact is, purely based on my CV and professional experience, I would not have qualified for my current role.

Zsuzsanna Békéssy

Knowing that skills are transferable and measuring potential instead of past experience is the practice that saved the day in the end!

Not just because it worked out great for her but because decades of scientific evidence supports this: cognitive abilities, such as critical thinking and problem-solving are actually much better predictors of job performance than education and prior work experience… combined! 

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