Building Transferable Skills:
Key Abilities for a Successful Career Start

See also: Employability Skills

Starting a career is an exciting and daunting phase of life. While technical skills are fundamental to your chosen profession, there's a range of other abilities necessary to start a successful career and advance in it. These competencies are known as transferable skills. They can be applied across various jobs and industries, helping you adapt to different work environments and challenges. This article aims to explore some key transferable skills and offers insights into building them, setting you up for a solid career start.

Often, individuals are unsure about the specific job role or industry they wish to enter after their education. This ambiguity underlines the importance of building transferable skills early on. Whether you pivot from one industry to another or advance in your chosen field, these skills will always serve you well. The best part? You don't necessarily need professional experience to develop them. You can build these skills through various channels like volunteering, part-time jobs, internships, online courses, and even everyday life experiences.


Effective communication is vital in every workplace. It's about articulating your thoughts clearly and listening to others, fostering better relationships and cooperation. Public speaking, writing, active listening, and negotiation are all components of this skill. To improve your communication, consider joining public speaking groups, participating in group projects, and regularly engaging in discussions or debates. Online platforms also provide numerous courses on effective communication, empowering you to articulate your thoughts convincingly and listen actively.


Every job has its challenges, and employers appreciate individuals who can tackle these effectively. Problem-solving skills involve identifying an issue, considering possible solutions, choosing the best one, and executing it. Regular practice and a curious mindset can strengthen these skills. Various online resources offer puzzles and complex problems that you can solve, while online courses can help you master specific problem-solving methodologies.

Time Management

In the fast-paced professional world, efficient time management is crucial. This skill involves prioritizing tasks, setting realistic deadlines, and completing them efficiently. To build this skill, start applying time management principles to your everyday life. Use scheduling tools, set personal deadlines, and practice prioritizing tasks. Over time, you'll become more proficient in managing your workload and meeting deadlines.


No matter the job, teamwork often comes into play. The ability to work well with others, understand different viewpoints, and collaborate to achieve common goals is invaluable in the workplace. Engage in team-based activities such as sports or group projects to hone your teamwork skills.


The corporate world is dynamic, with technologies, practices, and demands continually evolving. Hence, adaptability—the ability to adjust and thrive in changing conditions—is highly prized. Engage in a variety of experiences and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. This could involve learning a new skill, accepting feedback, or taking on new responsibilities.

Digital Literacy

Given the ubiquity of technology in modern workplaces, digital literacy is a critical transferable skill. It involves not only basic technical skills, like using software and online tools but also includes awareness about online security and ethics.

This is where the CISSP practice tests come in handy. CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional, a globally recognized certification in the field of cybersecurity. While not everyone needs a CISSP certification, going through these practice tests can boost your understanding of internet security and data privacy—an important aspect of digital literacy.

The good news is that the resources to build transferable skills are more accessible than ever. Platforms like offer numerous opportunities for career advancement. From connecting with potential employers to accessing resources for personal development, platforms like these play a crucial role in your career journey.


Even if you're not in a management position, leadership skills can be valuable in the workplace. It's about inspiring and guiding others towards a common goal, making decisions, and taking responsibility. Volunteering for lead roles in group projects or community activities can help build these skills. Consider also leadership courses and workshops that can provide valuable insights into effective leadership styles and strategies.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as empathize with others. This skill can enhance relationships, conflict resolution, and overall work environment. Cultivating mindfulness, self-reflection, and empathy can help increase your emotional intelligence. Online courses or reading material on emotional intelligence can offer you deeper insights into this topic.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. It involves the evaluation of sources, such as data, facts, observable phenomena, and research findings. Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information and differentiate between useful and less useful details to solve a problem or make a decision. You can foster this skill by regularly engaging in intellectually challenging activities, like reading complex materials, playing strategy games, or solving puzzles.

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are inevitable, even in the most harmonious workplace. The ability to handle conflicts effectively — understanding the perspectives of all parties involved, de-escalating the situation, and finding a fair solution — is a vital skill. You can develop this ability through mediation training programs and by practicing active listening and effective communication.

Cultural Awareness

With workplaces becoming increasingly diverse, understanding and respecting cultural differences is crucial. Cultural awareness enables you to work comfortably and efficiently with colleagues, clients, and partners from diverse backgrounds. This skill can be enhanced by educating yourself about different cultures, customs, and communication styles and by interacting with a diverse range of people.


In conclusion, embarking on your career journey with a robust set of transferable skills—communication, problem-solving, time management, teamwork, adaptability, digital literacy, leadership, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and cultural awareness—can significantly enhance your chances of success. These skills, applicable across various industries and roles, will not only aid your professional growth but also contribute to personal development.

Employ platforms like Higher Hire to connect with potential employers and to access resources for skill development. Take one step at a time, consistently work on these abilities, and you'll be better equipped to navigate the dynamic professional landscape. Remember, the key to a successful career start and sustained growth lies in continuous learning and adaptability. So, embark on this enriching journey of skill-building today, and prepare yourself for a thriving career ahead.

About the Author

Holly Clarke is a renowned writer and leading authority in the realm of education and career development. With an impressive background in pedagogy and career consulting, she brings her wealth of knowledge to her writing, offering unique insights and practical advice to those at the start of their professional journey.