Transferable skills are one of those things that people always chat about you getting whenever you do a degree or some work experience or an internship. But what does that actually mean? And what transferable skills do you have if you’ve got a degree? And how will they help you get a job?

It probably won’t come as a surprise that you learn a lot more at university than just what goes on in your lectures and seminars. Yes, we know that your history degree has taught you all about the Civil War, your English degree has helped you to consider exactly what Chaucer was on about, and your maths degree has only solidified your love of numbers. But do you realise that you’ve also probably learnt things like leadership, problem solving, and planning while you’ve been at university?

Think about all the things that you’ve done over your three years at university, the essays, the debates, and those dreaded group presentations. Every time that you’ve had to do one of these, you’ve developed those transferable skills. That’s the real reason your lecturer forces you to work in a group with other people and present to everyone else on your course – not because they like watching you suffer.

What transferable skills do I have?

Probably loads. And you’ve probably never even realised it. Here’s five transferable skills that all graduates have:

  • Teamwork All those group presentations mean that you’re quite used to working with other people now. You’ve learnt how to deal with people who don’t show up to group meetings, who don’t do the work that they say they will, or who you simply just don’t get on with.
  • Communication Yep, it’s not just English or creative writing graduates who come out of university with great communication skills. No matter what degree you’ve done, you’ll have had to how to communicate effectively with a number of different people: lecturers, other students, and also organisations such as the Student Loans Company.
  • IT The one skill that a lot of graduates forget that they have is IT. No, we’re not talking about being able to build your own computer, or even being able to fix the one you have – but being able to use it. It comes almost as a second nature to a lot of young people because of how important technology is in day to day life. But being able to use a social network effectively, or knowing how to find information quickly and easily online will mean you have better IT skills than some people who have been working for companies for decades.
  • Planning Yes, even those of you who put off all your work until the week of your deadlines have learnt planning skills while at university. Even if you were completely last minute with all of your work, you’ll have had to look at what work you had to do and work out what needed to take priority and what you could still put off until tomorrow.
  • Initiative Every single person who has been to university will have developed a certain amount of initiative that they didn’t previously have. Unlike when you’re doing your GCSEs or A Levels, suddenly it’s up to YOU to do all the work and the studying – you’re not being spoonfed by your teachers anymore. So you have to become a self-starter – and thus you develop this crucial skill.

How will transferable skills help me get a job?

Transferable skills are exactly what employers are looking for – all employers, not just employers in one particular area. They don’t want graduates who only know about their subject. Employers are looking for multi-skilled graduates capable of fitting in to the working environment and helping the company to make money. But you don’t necessarily need a degree in the same industry that you’re applying for jobs in – transferable skills mean that you can literally apply for any job, provided you can convince the employer that you have the skills necessary to do the job well.

Showing potential employers that you have all these wonderful skills can be a bit tricky, admittedly. Saying “I HAVE A DEGREE” doesn’t automatically guarantee you a job interview, sadly. And it also doesn’t show off all those transferable skills that you have. The best thing to do is to look at is what skills are mentioned in the job advert, and match your experience to those – remember that you’ll need to be able to back this all up with specific stories and examples if you’re invited to interview so don’t blag it.

Don’t forget the transferable skills that you’ve developed from part time jobs too – we’ve already mentioned those that you develop in waitressing, call centre work, admin, and temping.

If you’re looking for graduate opportunities, then check out our opportunities pages.