How to Show Off Your Transferable Skills in Your Cover Letter

Katharine Hansen
by Katharine Hansen   Career Advice Expert 
Published On : December 15, 2017 

While a resume is certainly important for highlighting any job seeker’s primary skills and work experience, when it’s paired with a comprehensive, well-written cover letter, it can set you apart from a large pool of applicants.

A great cover letter is a prime chance for you to emphasize your value and tell the employer what you find attractive about the position and why you want to work for them and not their competitors.

Not to mention, if you’re changing careers or are a jobseeker without much work experience, it’s an especially valuable opportunity to drive home those relevant abilities that you learned in your old career our outside of the workplace.

Showcasing these cover letter transferable skills takes just a little bit of know-how and practice.

Learn some tips about truly emphasizing these cover letter qualities so that you can elevate yourself in a competitive job market and create a proposal that leads to employment – even if you don’t have a lot of past experience in the field you’re pursuing.

1. Make a list for cover letter skills

Start by breaking down your previous jobs into a list of cover letter transferable skills.

Think big picture instead of small details when addressing each of these clusters. What follows are some of the most common soft skills that employers look for:

  • Communication skills: This includes oral and written communication
  • Interpersonal skills: Encompasses working in groups, collaborating with colleagues and general interpersonal skills
  • Leadership qualities: Be sure to mention if you were in charge of others or had any responsibilities with minimal oversight
  • Positive work ethic traits: Comprises qualities such as drive, stamina, effort, self-motivation and diligence
  • Conflict resolution skills: Includes problem-solving skills (especially during high-stress situations), the ability to adapt quickly, and a high emotional intelligence.

2. Find commonalities

Remember: regardless of what job you’re applying for, all prior professional occupations have likely involved either solving problems or satisfying customers/clients — or combination of both.

The details and responsibilities behind solving those problems or making clients happy are different, but all employers look for these characteristics.

3. Highlight other sought-after soft skills and characteristics

In addition to the above-mentioned points, experts on cover letter qualities recommend highlighting additional qualitative skills, including:

  • Organization
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Confidence
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving abilities
  • Flexibility
  • How quickly you acquire new technological or language skills
  • Ability to sell ideas or persuade people
  • Ability to devise creative solutions to problems
  • Ability to follow orders from superiors and supervisors

Cover Letter with Skills Examples

Let’s try to put these tips into practice by taking a look at some cover letter examples.

Imagine a restaurant server is seeking an entry-level marketing position. They might include the following in their cover letter this way:

In addition to marketing coursework in my undergraduate studies, I have successfully employed marketing skills in the restaurant space. In my most recent position, I practiced upselling by encouraging diners to order appetizers and desserts to add value to their overall dining experience. I would like to apply these same skills to your available marketing position.

Or perhaps a former educator is seeking an entry-level data entry position:

As a public school teacher, I was required to keep consistent, careful records about student information, grades and family contacts. Using specific web applications, I entered appropriate data to update files and portfolios and monitor student progress via data tools. I would like to apply these same organizational and data entry skills to this position at X Company.

When you take the time to emphasize cover letter transferable skills, it can help paint a clear picture of why you would be a good fit for the position.

Use a Cover Letter Builder to Find the Best Cover Letter Qualities

If you’re ready to take the leap and create your own stand-out cover letter, try out LiveCareer’s cover letter builder.

It offers job-specific templates tailored to the positions you’re targeting, and it provides professional business-oriented letter samples for you to emulate. Using phrases from the experts, you can successfully highlight your cover letter transferable skills and set yourself apart from the competition.

About the Author

Career Advice Expert

Katharine Hansen Career Advice Expert

Katharine Hansen was the creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers; she also wrote content for Quintessential Careers. She earned her Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press). She is also the author of Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press), and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills (Alpha).


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