Top 12 Job Skills Employers Look For in Job Candidates
Updated July 31, 2023
Having competitive job skills is an important part of developing your career. There are many qualities that are universally desired by employers regardless of their field. Especially if you are unsure about the career path you would like to pursue, it is important to develop skills that can transfer from one industry to another. This allows you to explore your job options freely while still creating a strong resume and performing well at work.
In this article, we share some of the top transferable job skills that apply to any industry or experience level to help you know what to prioritize in your job search and develop in your career.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are various abilities, knowledge and behaviors that can apply to any type of work. Most soft skills are transferable because they are related to general work habits and your attitude toward coworkers and clients. Transferable skills such as teamwork and strategic thinking are highly flexible and can be a benefit in your job regardless of the environment. Since no two jobs are the same, employers seek out candidates with transferable skills because they show that the applicant is flexible and adaptable.
Read more: Transferable Skills: Definition and Examples
Why are transferable work skills important?
Transferable work skills are important because they help people advance in their careers or change jobs without having to learn a new system for interacting with others and completing their work. Having flexible work skills can make it easier to switch professions or gain experience in new work environments. They also help employers keep a high standard of behavior at their company by selecting employees that have an understanding of the workplace behaviors needed for success.
Top 12 flexible career skills
Even if you are planning to stay at one company or industry for a long time, having flexible or transferable job skills can still support success in your career. Since some companies may value certain skills more than others, research potential employers to learn which skills you should focus on developing. Here are some of the top job skills that will help you succeed in any industry:
The ability to make good decisions and commit to them is a highly sought-after skill in any industry. Good decision-making requires you to be able to analyze a situation and predict the outcomes of possible actions. Decision-making shows confidence as well as good judgment, which are both incredibly useful regardless of the industry you work in or the position you hold.
Many jobs require employees to multitask and manage multiple responsibilities at once. Multitasking also shows the ability to focus on one task without neglecting your other duties. This skill supports your ability to take on new projects and help others when they are struggling with their workload. People who are good at multitasking can promote teamwork and efficiency in any workplace.
3. Creative problem-solving
Creative problem-solving involves thinking of unconventional solutions to complex issues. Demonstrating creative problem-solving skills can make you an asset in any situation Having a creative approach to problems is a skill that can make you an essential part of almost any workplace. Both highly technical careers in fields such as medicine and more service-oriented jobs such as administrative support need people who can creatively solve problems in order to overcome obstacles in the workplace.
Collaboration and teamwork are skills that can not only improve the quality of your work but the general productivity of your team. Many employers seek out candidates who work well with others and are willing to make compromises to produce quality work with their team. Collaboration also shows that you have the ability to innovate with others in any situation.
Good communication can help you become successful in any field by setting clear expectations with your manager and coworkers. Many companies use different methods to communicate depending on the type of work and whether their employees work in a central office or remote locations. In order to apply your communication skills to a new work environment, you should ask others about how others usually communicate in the workplace.
Read more: 10 Communication Skills for Career Success
Professionalism refers to the high standard of behavior expected of people who are serious about their job. It includes timeliness, politeness and organization among many other habits and attitudes. Being professional requires you to self-motivate and hold yourself accountable for your actions without needing oversight from a manager. Professionalism can be a good indicator that an employee will perform well at their job, so it is a necessary skill for anyone looking to succeed in their career, regardless of their field of work.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Professionalism
Integrity and trustworthiness is an important quality in your career because you will use it every day, regardless of what type of work you do. Establishing yourself as a person who is honest and supportive to others can help you network and find career opportunities while building a good reputation within your field. Having strong morals can help you earn responsibility at work and build trust among your coworkers.
Read more: Integrity: Definitions and Examples
Management skills include coordinating the efforts of your team, delegating tasks and making plans to carry out goals. Strong management often influences the success of an organization, so it is one of the key skills employers look for. Your ability to manage people and projects can be applied to any field, especially if you are interested in a leadership position.
Having initiative means that you are able to motivate yourself to pursue new tasks and produce a high quality of work. Taking initiative can help you get promotions, advance your career and demonstrate your commitment to your job. People who are highly motivated and show initiative are often successful regardless of the industry they choose to work in.
Read more: 9 Tips for Taking Initiative at Work
Having empathy and emotional intelligence is an important skill for any job where you work with other people. People who practice empathy at work actively listen to the needs and ideas of their colleagues. This skill is useful because it promotes teamwork and creates a company culture that is open to growth and new ideas.
Read more: How To Be Empathetic in the Workplace
Leadership skills can help you in all aspects of your career. They enable you to motivate others to complete tasks, work toward shared goals and improve morale. Leadership skills exist at all levels, from entry-level to CEOs.
Teamwork means working well with clients, colleagues, managers and others in the workplace. Working with others is required in most industries and positions, so having the skills to communicate well, actively listen and be responsible and honest is essential.
Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples
Frequently asked questions
How can you highlight relevant transferable skills when applying for a job?
When drafting your resume for a specific position, you can make it more effective by analyzing the job description and determining which transferable skills the employer is likely to value in a job candidate. You can then identify the skills on that list that you also possess and include them on your resume. You can either make two separate lists for hard and soft skills or one list that includes both.
You can also use your cover letter to highlight your transferable skills. Explain how you developed the respective skills and provide examples of situations where you used these skills.
How can you showcase your transferable skills during a job interview?
If the recruiter asks you to discuss your transferable skills during the interview, an appropriate way to showcase them is by using the STAR interview response technique, which stands for "situation, task, action and result":
Situation: Tell the recruiter about a specific situation where you displayed a transferable skill.
Task: Provide details regarding what your task was in that situation.
Action: Outline your actions when completing the respective task.
Result: Showcase the positive outcome.
How can I improve transferable skills?
You can improve many transferable skills by making a conscious effort to practice them. Some specific steps you can take when doing so are:
Identify the transferable skills you want to improve. The first step is usually noticing the areas that require improvement. You can do that by analyzing your actions in various situations and asking the people who know you for feedback.
Practice your transferable skills. After identifying which skills you wish to improve, try to find opportunities to practice them. For instance, if you wish to improve your problem-solving skills, seek challenging situations and try to resolve them.
Find training opportunities. You can further improve your transferable skills by attending dedicated workshops, courses and seminars. These can help you find ways of practicing your skills.
Seek mentorship. You can also identify people at work or in your personal life that excel at the transferable skills you wish to improve. They can guide you by providing insight into how they developed their skillset.
How can I measure my progress when working on my transferable skills?
You can start by determining your current level through self-assessment and by asking people close to you for feedback. You can then set specific goals, depending on which skills you wish to improve. Use a journal to track your progress over time and write down important milestones that you think are signs of progress. Although there's no objective measurement for soft skills, this can be a valid way of tracking your progress.
How can I determine which transferable skills are relevant to a specific career?
An appropriate way to determine which skills you can work on to advance on a specific career path is by interacting with experienced professionals in similar roles. You can ask them about the personal qualities that helped them achieve success in their professions and how they developed them. Additionally, you can research and analyze publications, reports and online discussions that refer to that specific role and industry.
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