Immigrating to a new country can also mean changing jobs or even careers. While this can be overwhelming, remember that employers are looking for an employee who has the ability to succeed. This is not limited to direct work experience but includes transferrable skills.

Transferable skills – also referred to as soft, portable, or employability skills – are things you do well that are marketable across a wide variety of work environments. Usually these are things that are not taught but gained through all types of life experiences.

While they are equally valuable to work experience in the job searching process, transferable skills are often more difficult to market. Therefore, you should identify and be able to provide examples of your transferable skills. Be prepared to explain to potential employers how your transferable skills make you the ideal candidate for the job you seek.

Identifying Your Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are things that are not taught but gained through all types of life experiences.

Transferable skills can be challenging to identify. Think back to your earliest job experience to make sure that you have a complete inventory to present to a potential employer. It can be easy to focus only on your most recent positions and not present an employer with all the skills that you have developed.

  • Go through your whole work experience and outline the skills that you needed to complete a specific duty.
  • Include skills that you have received recognition for from previous managers, co-workers, classmates, and friends.
  • Create a list of these skills to use as a reference for developing your resume.

Transferable skills are gained through all types of experience, including but not limited to:

  • Work experience
  • Volunteer experience
  • Education – formal and informal
  • Extra curricular activities and hobbies
  • Family and friends

Employers often ask if you have these types of transferable skills:

  • Do you have communication skills? (proficient writer, public-speaking, customer service experience, negotiating, speak multiple languages, active-listener)
  • Do you have analytical skills? (brainstorming, analyzing data and metrics, problem-solving, troubleshooting, researching)
  • Do you have management skills? (time management, conflict resolution, budgeting, organizing, recruiting)
  • Do you have leadership skills? (motivation, delegation, coaching)
  • Do you have computer and technical skills? (Microsoft Office or other software, coding, social media, typing, web such as HTML or CSS, graphic design, analytics)
  • Do you have team skills? (team projects, adaptable, collaborating)
  • Do you have caregiving skills? (parenting or caring for family members, children, or elderly)

Not all skills will fit every position that you apply for, but you should have a complete inventory to draw from for each position you apply for.

Reflecting your transferable skills can be as simple as ensuring you know what your ideal employment opportunity would look like. However, if you are still unsure what type of jobs you are searching for, you may consider taking a more thorough online test, visiting a career centre, or speaking with a mentor or guidance counsellor.

Want to know more? Take this online survey to help identify your transferable skills. Visit Website

Finding Jobs Based on Your Transferable Skills

Reflecting your transferable skills can be as simple as ensuring you know what your ideal employment opportunity would look like.

Not having work experience directly related to a job does not mean that you do not have the skills needed to succeed in that job. Consider jobs that ask for the skills you possess. You can identify and understand the types of skills required for a job or field by:

  • Researching the job online
  • Networking with people in the field
  • Reviewing job descriptions and postings
  • Reviewing job postings for a variety of jobs (even those below or above your targeted compensation) and checking the required skills to see if they match your transferable skills inventory

Want to know more? Use this online checklist to help identify jobs that match your transferable skills. Visit Website

Marketing Your Transferable Skills

When applying for a job that is not directly related to your work experience, you need to connect your transferable skills to the job description.

  1. Introduce your strongest transferable skills and how they relate to the job for which you are applying in your cover letter.
  2. Customize your list of transferable skills to match each job posting requirement.
  3. Include your relevant transferable skills in your resume.
  4. Reference your transferable skills and give examples during your interview.


  • Focus on transferable skills that are relevant to each job posting
  • Remember that transferable skills can come from post-secondary school experience as well as work experience
  • Demonstrate your soft skills during your interview (such positive, organized, punctual, active listener, good communicator)
  • Reference where you acquired your transferable skills (such volunteering, on the job, in school)


  • Make your cover letter and resume too long by including skills that are not relevant to the job

Find your Match!

Ready to become a mentor or find a mentor? Connect to a mentoring organization in Alberta.