Surefire resumes and cover letters portray your skills as transferable and applicable to what you want to do.
One of the most important concepts you will ever encounter in the job-hunting process is that of transferable job skills. In fact, we have told our undergraduate college students that transferable skills is the most important idea mentioned all semester. The deft use of transferable skills should pervade your job search and be a key factor in your resume, cover letter, and interview strategies.
You may think what you’ve done is not relevant to your future career, but you can probably spin the experience so that it demonstrates the transferable and applicable skills that most employers want:
The value of transferable skills is a major reason we urge students to list sports in the Experience sections of their resumes — because athletics so often provide the teamwork, leadership experience, and competitive drive that employers seek.
What are transferable skills? Simply put, they are skills you have acquired during any activity in your life — jobs, classes, projects, parenting, hobbies, sports, virtually anything — that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your next job.
In resumes, cover letters, and during interviews, you should always portray your skills as applicable to the job you seek. If you have good experience and you’re seeking in a job in the same field you’ve pursued in the past, portraying your skills as transferable is relatively easy. But as a college student or other entry-level jobseeker without much experience, you have a much more difficult task ahead of you.
Let’s begin with the transferable skills you’ve attained in the exclusively classroom. If you want to highlight relevant skills but have little or no work experience, don’t forget to use your classroom experience as an example. Here, we must give a tip of the hat to Fred Jandt and Mary Nemnich for their discussion of transferable skills from on school experiences in their book, Using the Internet and the World Wide Web in Your Job Search (JIST Works).