Transferable Skills


Even though a job ad might not ask specifically for someone who knows how to book solo gigs at local coffeehouses, your exact work experience can nevertheless be applicable to a wide range of jobs, and it’s valuable to employers in search of someone with numerous general abilities. Don’t sell yourself short: analyze each ad to see how and where your skills fit and then tailor both your résumé and your cover letter to suit the ad.

Skills Listed in Ads

Teamwork, Positive Attitude, or Ability to Work with a Variety of Personalities

Your relevant work experience could read this way:

  • Satisfied client requests under tight deadlines (customer service worker at a busy mobile phone retailer)
  • Ensured prompt, professional service to a wide variety of customers in a fast-paced team environment (sandwich shop worker)
  • Resolved customer complaints quickly and politely (retail sales cashier)
  • Researched answers to client questions and requests (tech support)

Interpersonal Skills

Your extracurricular experience could read this way:

  • Interacted with a diverse population at art shows, fairs, and exhibitions across Illinois (4H leader)
  • Collected signatures to increase the mailing list to 5,000 members (political activist)

Problem Solving, Analytical Skills, or Creative Skills

Your experience with class projects could read this way:

  • Developed a synthetic ear simulator for surgical training in a graduate entrepreneurship seminar
  • Collaborated with gallery interpretation manager to develop new ways for docents and other staff members to educate and interact with visitors to galleries
  • Designed a plan to control flooding and redistribute stream water to farmland in an advanced urban planning course

Organizational Skills

Your relevant student leadership or ensemble experience could read this way:

  • Organized the annual Chicago tour, which included visits to six different architecture firms (student architecture group leader)
  • Scheduled all rehearsals and events (summer theatre company assistant)
  • Served as the director for a six-person jazz ensemble (band leader)
  • Organized travel and logistics, assessed equipment needs, and handled transportation of large equipment (events manager)
  • Booked performances for an ensemble (road manager)

Communication or Marketing Skills

Your relevant student leadership or work experience could read this way:

  • Managed communications between the organization, members, and faculty by sending weekly email messages and updating the all-school calendar (student organization secretary)
  • Promoted exhibitions and events (public relations manager)
  • Created and maintained a WordPress website and Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook accounts (personal art sales)
  • Managed mailing lists with MailChimp (theatre company assistant)
  • Developed flyers and posters with Adobe InDesign (student dance group organizer)

Sales Analysis or Market Analysis

Your relevant coursework could read this way:

  • Conducted competitive benchmarking for a new hybrid Honda model in an industrial design course
  • Researched target audience, prices, and future generations for organic cotton socks in an advertising course

Financial Skills, Business Experience, Fundraising Experience, or Entrepreneurial Experience

Your work experience could read this way:

  • Set and negotiated prices, tracked expenses and supplies, and managed local and self-employment taxes (private art sales)
  • Arranged payment for spaces in galleries and venues (private art sales)
  • Wrote and secured grant proposals for three public art installations (development assistant)
  • Secured in-kind donations for Urbana Public Arts events (arts intern)
  • Kept books and records, managed accounts, and collected payments (private dance studio manager)
  • Negotiated contracts, fees, and payroll (summer theatre company business intern)

Public Speaking Skills

Your conference experience and related coursework could read this way:

  • Gave demos, lectures, and workshops (bodywork conference participant)
  • Led an “Arts at the Market” workshop on silk-screening techniques to approximately 30 participants of all ages as part of the City of Urbana Public Arts Program (teaching)
  • Presented a plan for restructuring the electrical system of a major metropolitan area to conserve energy (capstone project in solar energy)

Contact Info

If you’re looking for more guidance, set up an appointment with The Career Center to get personalized assistance and information on other campus resources. And don’t hesitate to contact FAA Career Services ( with questions about your professional goals.

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