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Leveraging Transferrable Skills: A Newcomer’s Guide to Boosting Employment in Canada

By Keph Senett

Published July 19, 2023 • 4 Min Read

During your job search, it makes sense to look for positions similar to those you’ve held in the past, but you may be able to appeal to more employers if you understand your transferrable skills.

In this guide, you’ll learn all about transferrable skills, how to identify them, and what strategies you can use to leverage them to get you employed.

What are transferrable skills?

A transferable skill is an ability or experience you can use in multiple occupations or industries. Some examples include research, organization, time management, communication, analytical thinking, and leadership. People with these skills are valuable to employers in all industries, so knowing how to identify and highlight them can help broaden your job search and make you a stronger applicant.

How to identify your transferrable skills

Many skills could be considered transferrable. It might help to start by thinking about these categories.

  • Data: Working with spreadsheets, statistics, and analytics

  • Time-management: Setting goals, managing schedules, and delegating tasks

  • Creativity: Design, writing, and creative thinking

  • Communication: Listening, speaking, and writing

  • Social: Working with others, generating teamwork

  • Leadership: Coaching, mentoring or organizing volunteers

Note that there is overlap in these categories. For example, you might need good communication skills for your job and to relate to coworkers. These areas contribute to a good workplace, making them attractive to potential employers.

With these broad groups in mind, review your resume and think about how you can demonstrate having some of these transferrable skills.

For example, communication. Writing, public speaking, and active listening are all skills that might fall into this category. Are there specific examples where you demonstrated communication skills at a past job? Skills like strategic thinking, coaching or mentoring, and problem-solving could all be leadership skills. Do you have specific examples of when you showed leadership?

Think more about the skills you’ve used instead of the specifics of your exact job.

How to leverage your transferrable skills while looking for a job

You have two opportunities during a job search to leverage your transferrable skills: in your application and in an interview.

When you search job listings, you probably filter according to occupation or job title, but with your transferrable skills, you can broaden your search. For example, suppose you’ve been working as a teacher. In that case, you’ve likely got organizational, communication, and leadership skills, so you could expand your search to include other jobs with similar skills profiles, like management positions. Some job boards will even let you search skills as keywords.

When you find a job you wish to apply for, go through your resume and emphasize the appropriate transferrable skills to draw the prospective employer’s attention. In your cover letter, mention these skills and briefly discuss how they make you suitable for the job.

You’ll have another chance to highlight your transferrable skills when you get an interview. Interviews generally happen in person or on video. Research the company beforehand and be prepared to discuss how your skills will assist you in the job. Using the same example from above, you could explain how managing a classroom demands organization and time management and taught you how to act as a mentor or coach to help your students meet their goals. As a manager, you would bring these skills to a team to ensure you meet company goals.

Transferrable skills and networking

Networking, or interacting with people, is an important way to find work in Canada. There are job-specific networking events, but also consider meet-ups, community events, and social get-togethers as opportunities to interact. Should your conversation turn to work, be ready to discuss your past work and your transferrable skills.

Transferrable skills can be more important to employers than direct industry experience. By identifying what you can offer and communicating that effectively, you can demonstrate your value to prospective employers and increase your chances of finding employment in Canada.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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