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Top 5 transferable skills that can help if you’re making a career shift

Careers are not a constant, but some of your skills can be.

[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Are you shifting to a new job? A new industry? How can your skills and knowledge translate to the varying jobs? Unlike career journeys, some skill sets are linear and valuable when switching to another job title or sector. 

Humza Chaudrey, Employer Engagement Manager at the University of Birmingham Dubai, says, “At some point, you may want to shift into another career and move position internally through transferable skills.”

Transferable skills are abilities and qualities that can be applied to various jobs and industries. “They are valuable because they enable individuals to adapt and succeed in different roles and situations,” says Müge Gökdeniz, Senior Consultant and founder of Wthinku Training & Consultancy

She credits such skills as essential for many reasons. First, they allow people to transition between jobs and industries and become more versatile in the job market. Secondly, transferable skills help individuals remain relevant and competitive in a rapidly evolving market. Third, employers look upon these skills positively, showing employees’ ability to learn, grow, and contribute effectively in various roles.

As a professional CV writer, Gökdeniz also notes that when creating your CV, it would be wise to tailor your transferable skills to the job descriptions you are applying for by writing down the specific qualifications listed. Providing evidence through examples of how you have applied those transferable skills in past roles can also add depth and credibility to your CV. “Use quantifiable achievements to showcase your abilities,” she says.

“In a competitive job market, transferable skills can set you apart from other candidates. They show that you bring valuable skills and attributes to the table, regardless of your prior experience,” she adds.

Here are some skills that would appeal to the eyes of recruiters:


Effective communication is key to sharing ideas, collaborating with co-workers, and coming face-to-face with clients and customers. “It ensures clarity, reduces misunderstandings, and fosters a positive work environment,” says Gökdeniz.

Chaudrey says this skill involves “adjusting communication in the workplace for staff, clients, and stakeholders. People from different backgrounds, capacities, and levels will be different in any job. Therefore, communication needs to be understood and conveyed in a way which can be effective, efficient, and impartial.”


Having leadership skills means motivating and guiding teams, calling decisions, and taking responsibility and initiative. This is not limited to managerial roles as “displaying leadership traits can [generally] improve collaboration and drive results,” says Gökdeniz.

However, leadership skills do not work in isolation; it also touches on teamwork skills. “Every position, even if working alone, has correlation or contribution to the wider team. In reflection, teamwork is key to ensuring the objectives of an organization are met. Every company or role would have objectives and KPIs affected not only by departmental teams but also by contributing to the wider team of an organization,” says Chaudrey. 

Conclusively, this skill is key when discussing transferable skills, as you will always have an element of teamwork or team ethic within the workplace.


When troubleshooting issues, optimizing processes, and adapting to change, you will want to use your problem-solving skills, which involves “identifying challenges, analyzing them, and finding practical solutions,” mentions Gökdeniz.

Adapting is a transferable skill that requires an open mind to change, accepting new skills, and adjusting to different work environments or challenges. When it comes to being resilient in any job, adaptability is crucial. 

Maintaining strength in how you approach workplace issues and how you manage your workload also counts. “Therefore, to overcome these issues, you need to be resilient when problems arise and have the skill to stay professional positive and look at how issues can be resolved,” notes Chaudrey.


Having awareness and understanding of business acumen helps support individuals in applying their transferable skills within a commercial environment.

“Every position will have a business/commercial aspect that overlaps workloads. In retrospect, every existing company has an element of making profit through commercial strategies,” says Chaudrey.

In developing relationships, a sense of professionalism is key and is a skill that can be applied to any job. “As workplace behavior is defined by professionalism, it also contributes to the self-presentation of staff internally and to the external reputation of a business,” explains Chaudrey.


While there are only so many hours in a day, it’s a fact that’s easy to forget when others are vying for your attention. Time management skills help individuals prioritize tasks, set goals, and meet deadlines.  Your work strategies or approach to planning and allocating effort across goals, activities, and time periods impact your performance and productivity. 

“This skill is essential for maintaining productivity, ensuring efficient time use, and achieving work-life balance,” says Gökdeniz.

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Suha Hasan is a correspondent at Fast Company Middle East. More

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