Recruiters and selection committees routinely process tens, if not hundreds of applications for individual positions. Showcasing your qualifications and technical skills in your cover letter and CV is key to capturing their attention. However, in addition to your expertise in your field, it is also vital to demonstrate flexibility and a breadth of experience.
This is where transferable skills come in. These are the ‘softer skills’ you will have developed over the course of your professional life. They are valued attributes across a wide range of positions in teaching, management and research.
Transferable skills gained from non-academic employment or voluntary positions demonstrate your versatility and resilience – both of which are highly sought-after characteristics in higher education. If you are an early career researcher, including them in your application can be especially useful, because they show your ability to project manage, communicate and problem solve.
If you are moving out of academia, it is important to highlight technical research skills and other abilities developed over your career, as they are in high demand beyond the university walls.
However, because transferable skills are wide-ranging and less closely-defined than ‘hard skills’, they can prove difficult to pin down. To save you time scratching your head and staring out of the window, we’ve created this cheat sheet:
Remember to provide solid evidence to back up each transferable skill you cite. Make sure that evidence is quantifiable and benefit-associated, and you will be well on your way to creating a stand-out application for your next academic post.