Are you changing jobs—or maybe even industries? Especially if you’re making a big career transition, it’s important to emphasize transferable skills in your cover letter, resume, and during your job interviews.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills are those that can be used in different industries and jobs, and they can help make you a valuable candidate for employers. Transferable skills include the hard and soft skills that are applicable in both your current role and the job you’re seeking.
- Hard skills are career-specific knowledge, such as programming languages, engineering, legal expertise, project management, or design.
- Soft skills are people skills such as teamwork, creative thinking, critical thinking, communication, flexibility, and problem-solving.
Transferable soft skills are particularly important to mention when you lack much professional work experience; or are transitioning to a new career where you haven’t yet developed industry-specific job skills.
For example, you might have developed time management, communication, and conflict resolution skills in your student job as a food server. All of those skills will be useful to you when applying for a retail or customer service job, even in an entirely different industry.
How to Demonstrate Transferable Skills in Your Cover Letter
Match your qualifications to the job description. Analyze the listing and tease out keywords that describe the role, its duties, and the company’s requirements. Then match your skills, experience, and abilities to their needs, emphasizing how your qualifications translate to the role.
Include examples of projects, teams, or training you've been a part of allows the company to gain a better understanding of your background and helps them to see the potential positive impact you'll make on their business.
Customize your cover letter for every job. Remember, the following cover letter examples are merely guides.
It is important to tailor the letter to fit your situation and the job for which you're applying.
Transferable Skills Cover Letter Example #1
If you are a current college student or recent graduate, you will definitely want to emphasize the transferable “soft skills” (like leadership, attention to detail, or communication) that many employers seek in entry-level personnel.
This is a transferable skills cover letter example for a college student or recent grad. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Transferable Skills Cover Letter (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
October 13, 2020
Director, Human Resources
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Ms. Lau,
In reviewing your corporate website, I was excited to learn about your management training program. Please consider the attached resume as a sign of my very deep interest in becoming an Intern in this exciting program.
During my undergraduate studies in Business Administration at ABC College, I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore subjects including retail merchandising, customer service strategies, and business communications – studies which have inspired me to pursue a career in retail management.
To this end, I have worked for our campus bookstore for the past six months as a sales clerk, acquiring a solid knowledge of how to provide excellence in customer service. My duties in this role have also included merchandising, stocking, and inventory control.
I believe that as an Intern in your management training program, my enthusiasm for customer service and retail sales will become clear. I also look forward to using my leadership skills (developed as Captain of the ACB College Crew Team and Rush Chairman for my sorority) to learn how to motivate and coordinate store teams, with an emphasis upon honesty, diversity, inclusion, and safety. Other skills that will transfer well to this role include:
- Excellent verbal and nonverbal communications talents, with fluency in both English and Spanish.
- A demonstrated attention to accuracy in all cash and credit handling transactions, with the ability to quickly master new POS systems.
- A dedication to team building and accomplishment, based on creating a climate of mutual respect between all team members, no matter what their position or level of seniority.
Thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing the attached resume; I would be grateful for the opportunity to speak with you directly in a personal interview. Please let me know if there is any additional information I can provide in support of my candidacy for this internship.
Signature (typed letter)
Transferable Skills Cover Letter Example #2
This cover letter example focuses on changing industries and emphasizes transferable sales skills.
27 Chestnut St., Apt 2
Business City, NY 20733
October 13, 2020
Human Resources Manager
200 Office Park Way, Ste. 300
Business City, NY 20733
Dear Ms. Lee,
It was with much interest that I learned about your recently posted advertisement for a Sales Representative.
In various roles in the retail sales sector, I have developed strong sales skills that have enabled me to build a record of sustained sales increases. I thrive on challenge and change, and I look forward to new opportunities to build positive customer relationships every day.
I believe that as a Sales Representative for Widget Inc., my energy, analytic skills, organizational abilities, and creativity in tackling problems will make a positive contribution. I am equally comfortable working independently to meet company goals, as well as collaboratively as part of a team. I have always been able to establish and maintain excellent relationships with clients and coworkers at all levels. My professional skills include:
- Uncovering client needs and recommending appropriate products or services.
- Selling solutions to customers and then backing up those sales with top-quality service.
- Building relationships with co-workers, clients, and strategic partners.
- Developing processes and strategies to increase referrals and revenue.
- Accurately completing data research and analysis while demonstrating computer proficiency.
I would welcome the chance to provide you with additional information to supplement what appears in my enclosed resume and demonstrate how my sales skills will seamlessly transfer to the IT sales sector. I am available for a personal interview at your convenience. I know you are busy and have many applications to review, so please let me know if you wish to further discuss your requirements and my ability to meet them.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Signature (typed letter)
How to Send an Email Cover Letter
Sending your cover letter via email offers several advantages: it’s faster, more efficient, and saves the cost of a stamp. Many employers ask for email cover letters or require them as part of their online job application system. To make sure your email cover letter impresses the hiring team:
Use the right subject line. List your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message, e.g., “Senior Graphic Designer – John Smith.”
Skip the employer’s contact info. In an email submission, it isn’t necessary to list the employer’s contact information (as you would in a “snail mail” letter). Instead, begin your letter with an appropriate salutation and include your personal contact information in your email signature.
Proofread and test your email before hitting send. Have a trusted friend check your email for typos and errors after you’ve completed your draft. Then send yourself a copy before emailing your cover letter to the hiring manager, so that you’re sure your formatting holds up.