Career Advice

Career Change: The 5 Must-Have Skills to Change Your Career Successfully

I think that the most challenging aspect of changing a career is that you don’t have the exact skills or experience required to make the change, especially if you are not sure about the career path you want to pursue or if you are planning to make a career change by taking up a new role in your current company, moving to a new company, or moving to a completely different industry.

And, entering a new field can be extremely intimidating without the required skill set. For instance, if you are currently working in advertising and want to change to a new career in IT, you may not have the exact skill set required for this career change. The key to changing careers successfully is all in the way you market yourself.

For this, you must ask yourself, the all-important question, “What skills do I possess that I can use in my next role?” The skills that you identify by doing this are known as transferable skills. And, your resume must showcase your transferable skills to your potential employers that can add value to their organization.

So, if you’re looking at a career change, then in this article, we’ll discuss the top 5 must-have skills that you must possess to help you do that.

What Are Transferable Skills?

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While it is very important to have competitive skills to develop your career, there are certain skills that employers desire in an employee or a potential hire irrespective of their specific field.

These skills are known as transferable skills, which refers to any knowledge, ability or talent, which can be applied to varied industries, roles or jobs.

Transferable skills are deep rooted, independent of any specific job or industry and are perfected over time. These skills increase through time, experience and opportunities for development such as training, mentoring and one-on-one coaching.

For instance, if you work in marketing and are looking for a career change to a different industry, while most of your experience may be related to marketing i.e., dealer relations, sales, promotions, market research, etc., you would have built several skills such as communication, project management, people management and other skills over the course of your career in marketing that are applicable to other industries too.

You may be able to use these skills in roles in other industries such as product management, corporate communications or advertising. Irrespective of the career path you choose, your experiences, as well as transferable skills that you have learned in marketing, will help immensely in your next job.

Why Are Transferable Skills Important for a Job Change?

While these may be considered soft skills compared to the skills required for a particular role, transferable skills are very important to employers. These skills demonstrate how you can be a good fit for the particular role and what you have learned from your previous jobs, roles or experiences.

So, if you’re looking for a job change and don’t have any experience in the industry or job you are looking for work in, then transferable skills can be an excellent way to demonstrate why you are the right candidate for the role.

Top 5 Must-Have Skills for a Career Change

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As we have discussed earlier, each career and job require different skill sets, some of which you have brought along with you from your old job and others that you have learned in your current role.

Whether you are planning to remain in the same organization or industry or planning a career change, transferrable, flexible or portable skills can be an important aspect that determines success in your career.

It is important to do your homework and understand which skills potential employers look for the most and focus on honing those skills. Here are the top 5 skills that will enable you to succeed in any job, company or industry:

Communication Skills

I find that today, more and more employers are looking for people with good communication skills. While good communication skills are absolutely essential in customer-facing roles; however, good communication is a versatile skill that is important for any type of job or role that enables the smooth working of any organization.

The ability to communicate professionally and effectively is very important in the modern workplace. Communication can range right from working with your clients or customers to fulfill their requirements or solve any issue, right to working with your colleagues to achieve a common objective.

However, communication is a lot more than just speaking and listening. When you consider communication skills, it refers to:

  • Verbal Skills: This encompasses all that you say and the manner in which you say it.
  • Listening Skills: This lays emphasis on listening and understanding whatever someone is saying more than simply waiting for someone to finish talking before you speak. Listening is very important not only for conflict resolution or problem-solving but is essential to being a good team player.
  • Writing Skills: To be successful in any professional career, it is essential to have good writing skills.
  • Technological Communication Skills: This skill is to do with your capability to evaluate various communication media platforms, their strengths and weaknesses and finally select the one that is best to communicate your message to your target audience.

Related Article: 10+ Communication Strengths and Weaknesses You Need to Know


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Multitasking is among the most desirable skills that most modern organizations are looking for in employees. Most jobs need employees to manage several responsibilities and jobs at once i.e., multitasking.

And, good multitasking abilities essentially depend on good organizational, as well as time management skills. Multitasking shows the ability of the employee to focus on many different tasks without neglecting one for the other. It can help to enhance the efficiency of the workplace while promoting teamwork.

Teamwork Skills

To be successful in any organization, teamwork skills are extremely important, irrespective of your job, role or industry. Teamwork skills can help you to complete all your tasks efficiently and effectively while creating a pleasant work environment for you and others who work with you by working well with your colleagues, managers, clients and other people.

Good teamwork skills depend mainly on how well you can listen, communicate, be honest and responsible. Teamwork skills are extremely important because when you’re working in an organization, you will need to work along with other people at every level of your career.

And, being empathetic, responsible and efficient in whatever you do not only helps to contribute to your organization positively but also helps you meet your career goals. It can also help you to build rapport with others, which leads to building better connections, improved working relationships and new opportunities.

Teamwork requires you to be committed to your team and teamwork skills are particularly important to become a leader. This is because all successful leaders must understand the dynamics of teamwork and to be a great leader, you must first be a good team player.

Critical Thinking Skills

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These skills are essentially the application of problem-solving skills that you learned and honed as a high school student in the professional world. Critical thinking involves a methodical approach to thinking about all the issues related to a specific challenge that can help in solving it.

Problem-solving, analytical or critical thinking skills help you to think through things in a logical manner and define the challenge along with the required solutions. They will then help you to evaluate the various solutions and implement the solution that is the best for the particular issue vis-à-vis others.

And, when you have determined what course of action to take, then plan out the steps, resources and time to put them into action. Possessing problem-solving skills can help to overcome any problems in the workplace and make you an asset to any organization.

Read More: How To Improve Critical Thinking Skills At Work And Make Better Decisions

Leadership Skills

When you consider the must-have skills required for a career change, I believe that leadership skills are the most important. These skills help you to organize other people so that the shared objective can be reached effectively.

So, whether you’re a manager, team leader or in the management of a company, leadership skills are critical to motivating your people to complete the tasks to meet deadlines.

Any organization needs effective leaders who can help to build strong teams and ensure that all the initiatives and functions work efficiently. However, when you consider all the transferable skills necessary to make you successful in your professional life, leadership skills are the most complex.

Leadership comprises a combination of a set of skills and you need qualities such as decisiveness, reliability, empathy, integrity, patience, active listening, creativity, timely communication, effective feedback, flexibility, team building, risk taking, flexibility and the ability to mentor and teach to be a good leader.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why do employers look for transferable skills?

Employers look for potential employees having skills, especially when they are changing their careers so that they can tap into these skills whenever needed. They also look for employees with transferable skills because these skills enable the employee to think and go beyond their job description.

For instance, a customer service representative with good problem-solving skills may do much more than his/her job. They may look at inefficiencies in the allocation of incoming calls and provide a solution that can save the company money and time.

Why are skills important to you for a job change?

When you consider your career, be it in your current company or if you’re considering a career change, transferable skills are important because they play a key role in the advancement of your career.

Using your existing skills and applying to solve new challenges can demonstrate to your employers that you are versatile and adaptable and can adapt to any type of role very easily and this is especially important if you’re changing your career.

What is the difference between transferable skills, soft skills and hard skills?

Hard skills, soft skills and transferable skills are all different.

  • Hard/technical skills are usually gained through education or training of some form. These skills are usually industry or job specific.
  • Soft skills are basically interpersonal skills such as communication, listening, empathy, etc.
  • Transferable skills are skills that refer to any knowledge, ability or talent, which can be applied to varied industries, roles or jobs. These skills are deep rooted, independent of any particular job or industry and are perfected over time.

Is it possible to identify your transferable skills?

There are several ways by which you can identify your transferable skills such as self-analysis, self-assessments and job profile searches.

  • Self-Analysis: You can examine your present job experience and roles and responsibilities in your current job. This can help you identify your skills, assets and strengths that you can contribute to your new career.
  • Self-Assessment: Taking a self-assessment test can help to determine your interests, strengths/weaknesses and type of worker that you are, which can help you in your steps towards a new career.
  • Job Profile Search: If you’re not really sure about which career path to follow, then doing a job profile search is a good idea. This will give you potential career ideas and jobs that may be suitable for you.

    When you have identified the career you are interested in, then you must create a list of all your skills and match them to those in the profile.

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Parting Thoughts

If you are considering a career change, then your job search can be greatly determined by your transferable skills. By developing these skills, you can get better job offers, salaries, job security and future career opportunities.

So, it is important to develop your transferable skills and make them a part of the brand called “you.”

Understand how each of these skills can help you do your job better and showcase them in your resume, interview and any other written communication. In the long run, your transferable skills will become an intrinsic part of you and will open more doors and better opportunities for you.

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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