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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Getting that job: make the most of your skills

These days, it's likely that you will come across different roles and working environments. To reach your full potential it pays to be flexible and adaptable, especially if you're looking at a change in career. A good way to start is by recognising your transferable skills.

Using your transferable skills

These are the skills that you've built up during any job or activity that you can use in other jobs. You can build up skills through all sorts of activities, for example:

  • jobs
  • projects
  • volunteer work
  • hobbies
  • sports

These skills can include:

  • communication – by speaking, writing or emailing in the best way for the audience
  • teamwork – being a helpful team member, adding to the success of the team
  • leadership – motivating and encouraging others while taking the lead
  • initiative – seeing opportunities and setting and achieving goals
  • solving problems – thinking things through in a logical or creative way to find solutions to the most important problems
  • flexibility and being able to adapt – changing and adjusting to new situations
  • being self aware – knowing your strengths and skills and having the confidence to show these
  • commitment and motivation – having energy and enthusiasm when carrying out projects
  • interpersonal skills – relating well to others and building up good working relationships
  • numeracy – understanding and using information such as numbers, statistics and graphs

Identifying the skills you have now

If you think back to past jobs, hobbies and other activities, you probably already have some useful transferable skills, like:

  • good teamwork and communication skills from working in an office as part of a team
  • initiative and leadership skills from helping to run a Brownie pack in your spare time

It can sometimes be hard to recognise your own strengths. If you're getting a working age benefit an interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser can help. A working age benefit includes:

  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support

An adviser will know about other organisations that could help you identify and gain the skills you need. You can also ask friends and relatives to help you work out your strengths that are also your transferable skills.

If you're not getting a working age benefit, Next Step in England can give you advice and information on learning and training. In Wales contact Careers Wales and in Scotland contact Skills Development Scotland.

Identifying skills you will need in the future

There are ways to build up the skills you need so you can get where you want to be. You need to think about the kind of job you want to do, for example, in hospitality. Do some research into the skills and experience that this type of job normally needs. Use this to compare with the transferable skills you already have to find any gaps.

Developing new transferable skills

You can develop new skills and experiences in lots of ways. You may want to:

  • do some voluntary work
  • take part in a hobby, committee or group
  • do some part-time work
  • register with a recruitment agency and do some temporary work
  • go on a training course

These activities can help boost your self-confidence and social life too.

Many of the employers that Jobcentre Plus works with also want to help you develop your skills for work. They may be able to offer you coaching from their employees and training before you start work.

A Jobcentre Plus adviser will be able to tell you what opportunities there are near you.

Applying your transferable skills to a job application

When applying for a job you haven't done before, transferable skills can help you show an employer you have the right skills for the job.


You have switchboard and typing skills, but you haven't had contact with customers in your previous jobs. For the last three years, you have been a representative for a local Christmas club. You help people to save up over the year so that they can pay for the extra costs at Christmas. This means that you've become confident in talking to customers face-to-face, answering questions by phone and handling complaints.

Showing your transferable skills

You need to show a potential employer that the skills you have are the right skills for the job. The link below will show you how to present the information to give you the best chance.

You can also download the Jobcentre Plus 'Make the most of your skills' factsheet below.

Provided by Jobcentre Plus

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