Transferable skills are the key to your next career transition

When you are trying to name your skill sets, it can be difficult. It makes it harder to find the right job. Without this clarity, you may find yourself in a mismatched role. Identifying your favorite skills is one of the best ways to make a successful career transition and ensure role alignment. When you know your skillset, you are more confident about the opportunities you go after, and you are more likely to find a good-fitting role. 

As we continue this blog series addressing each chapter of The Purple Parachute: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Winds of Career Change, the final piece of the puzzle is revealed, as Skills are the last letter in the V.I.N.E.S. acronym. 


If you overuse a skill, you may get tired of it and have less interest in it. If you challenge yourself, you may develop a new skill or strengthen an existing one. If your skills always stay the same, you may not be learning new things to create opportunities in your career path.  

During your career, your top ten skills will likely evolve. You will always have a variety of skills, but your ability to execute them will fluctuate in proficiency and enjoyment over time. Remember that you don’t have to take every skill with you to the next role. 


When sorting out your skills, it’s helpful to think of three categories. 

Job Specific:  These types of skills are critical to certain professions but are not necessarily transferable from job to job. Some examples are a nurse knowing how to draw blood or a landscaper knowing how to take down a tree. Often, they are learned through training, education, or on-the-job experience. Keeping these skills up to date is important if you want to stay in your field, but if you want to transition, they may not help you get the next job.

Personal Traits:  These skills can be thought of as characteristics, strengths, or predictable behaviors.  Some examples are being on time or being dependable. Sometimes, they show up as soft skills, which can overlap with transferable skills (such as the ability to communicate well and always act like a leader). Personal traits might help you discern what work environments will be a good fit and what roles and organizational cultures will align with your style.

Transferable Skills:  When it comes to career transition, transferable skills are critical to identify. They are action verbs that facilitate the career transition process. As the title implies, these skills can be utilized in various roles. It’s important to reassess these skills every so often because they may wax and wane depending on your roles and how much you use them. It’s normal over time to learn a new skill, master that skill, and then burnout on that skill. 

If you are looking to change your role in some way, you need to zero in on your transferable skills. Whether your pivot is small or large, these are the keys to a successful transition. One example of a slight change would be a teacher who transitions into an instructional designer but is still focusing on the skills of sharing knowledge with others and communicating complex ideas in simple terms. In contrast, someone might go from chain restaurant manager to financial advisor because their best skill is customer service.  This is a much bigger pivot, but still using a transferable skill to lead the way.


To assess your transferable skills, map them out using the skill grid in the Workbook Companion to The Purple Parachute. You can download a copy of the workbook through this link:

It is a short exercise to help you understand your transferable skills using a grid with four quadrants that identify which skills you’re good at and which ones you’ve enjoyed in your roles. You will fill in the skills you utilized in each of your jobs. Look for the skills that show up often as something you are good at and enjoy.

These insights can help you decide which skills you want to take forward in your next role. Create a list of your top five to ten skills in Quadrant #3. Now, use this list as a guidepost to compare future opportunities. To increase the odds of your satisfaction with a potential role, ensure that most of your blissful skills are represented in it. 


As an example of career pivots and transferable skills, let me share my move away from human resources (HR) to real estate and then into workforce development. I had built up good skills in my HR career, which included helping people get hired and training employees in skill building, but I burned out as a one-person HR department in a facility with almost 200 employees. During this time, my husband was growing his real estate brokerage and needed to hire someone. I assessed that I could apply my transferable skills of customer service, time management, and extroversion to becoming a REALTOR if I were willing to study and pass a test for the job-specific requirement of obtaining a license. Long story short, I decided to join him, and together, we ran a successful real estate business for five more years. Then, we came to a point where we had to decide if we wanted to keep running it.

I went through the A.S.T.E.R. Career Model and assessed my V.I.N.E.S. During this exercise; I realized that I had a transferable skill theme of helping people with major life decisions (getting a job or buying a house). I excelled in organizing the process for my clients from beginning to end (my transferable skill and superpower). However, I realized I was more fulfilled by helping people find a new job or career than by finding a new house. It was also more comfortable being a part of the career industry (collegial and supportive) rather than being a part of the real estate industry (competitive and cutthroat). In addition, there were necessary requirements for being a REALTOR that I did not enjoy, such as calculating amounts quickly, always being available, and hard negotiations. 

My path necessitated re-assessing my skills at critical points in my career journey, but it’s a good idea for everyone to conduct a skills audit every few years to help you decide where you want to grow and what you want to let go.

I hope this post helped you see why you need to know your best transferable skills. They help you make a career transition and guide you to jobs that align well. If you need help figuring out your transferable skills, set up a free appointment with me to discuss how I can help you do this.


P.S.  As we head toward the holidays, support yourself or a friend by buying a copy of The Purple Parachute or purchasing a gift certificate for a career service.