Transferrable Skills: Pros and Cons

Can’t find talent?  Hire people with transferrable skills.  Need to staff an entire department fast?  Leverage transferrable skills.  Identifying and hiring individuals who have transferrable skills sounds like a great idea and seems like it would be a great strategy. After all, everyone brings life experience and both hard and soft skills to the table.  It’s just a matter of identifying how those skills could work for you, right?

execunetselect-skills-transferThe term “transferable skills” is an over-discussed and under-utilized asset in most interviewing and hiring processes.  Everyone agrees transferable skills are valuable and the solution to many hiring issues, but few leaders have learned how to identify them.  The reality is that most recruiters, talent acquisition professionals, and hiring managers are under extreme pressure to fill open jobs and do not have the time to consider how transferrable skills could impact their ability to fill open requisitions with top talent. The other side of this equation are candidates who are unaware of how to showcase their transferrable skills and abilities through their resume, CV, or LinkedIn Profile.

If you’re serious about being open to hiring employees with transferable skills, here are some specific pros and cons to consider.

PRO: Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals are often the first to identify the benefits of hiring candidates with transferrable skills. 

CON: Without the buy-in of 100% of the individuals involved in the hiring process, qualified candidates with transferrable skills will be screened out. 

SOLUTION: Set up meetings between recruiting | talent acquisitions and hiring managers to explain how they will benefit by embracing transferrable soft skills.

  • Larger candidate pool
  • Candidate will become engaged and retained
    1. Learning new industry | profession
    2. Professional development
    3. Increase marketability
    4. Understand performance objectives

PRO: Every candidate has transferrable talents and abilities (hard and soft skills) that can be utilized in many different jobs and career paths.

CON: While hard skills are easy to identify and qualify, there is no formal classification system to grade proficiency levels of soft skills. 

SOLUTION: Quantify hard and soft skills on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. 

PRO: Removes the importance and focus of specific job titles.

CON: Job titles vary greatly from industry to industry which can be misleading.

SOLUTION: Recruiters, talent acquisition professionals and hiring managers must break down the job to identify core hard and soft skills needed to perform the job and achieve performance objectives.

PRO: Transferrable skills can be identified by utilizing assessment tools. 

CON: Assessment tools are a cost factor and can delay the hiring decision. 

SOLUTION: Identify assessment tools that can identify both soft and hard skills. Practical skill assessment tests are the most effective for hard skills.  Skill assessment tests also allow candidates to demonstrate they can perform specific tasks.

Personality assessments are excellent for identifying soft skills. We have utilized the DiSC® assessment tool for years when hiring recruiters. We have proven that individuals who score a high “I” influencer, have become our most successful team members.

PRO: Veterans have incredible transferrable skills that would benefit your company.

CON: It takes time to understand transferrable skills, but if hiring Military is part of your company culture and core values, it is well worth the time.

SOLUTION: There are great tools that translate codes from the Military into skills and responsibilities in the private sector.  Bookmark these tools to understand how military experience translates into transferrable skills you can utilize.

Some examples of the resources include Military Skills Translator (, Military Skills Translator (, Military to Civilian Occupation Translator ( or Crosswalk that translates codes from military into skills and responsibilities. 

PRO: Candidates from your same industry | profession will have specific industry knowledge and it’s easier to identify their transferrable skills into another role.

CON: You greatly limit your candidate pool if you only consider hiring someone with transferrable skills from your same industry. 

SOLUTION: With the exception of highly skilled specific scientific, IT or engineering roles, most job requirements can be met in the transferrable skills of candidates from other industries. If you hire from your industry, candidates know your industry jargon and you will save some time training the new hire.  However, there is probably fierce competition to hire from the same pool as your competitors, you may have to match a counteroffer which increases your cost of hiring.  Hiring from outside your industry can provide you candidates who are more diverse, creative, and innovative because they do not fit the specific profile of past hires.

I’m currently writing a course on transferable skills for LinkedIn Learning which will be released in November.  I’ve always put great value on transferable skills, but after doing extensive research for my course, I know identifying transferable skills will be a game changer for anyone who utilizes these talents.

When you weigh the pros and cons of transferrable skills, it becomes very apparent that you and your company will benefit greatly by making the changes necessary to identify and hire qualified candidates who possess transferrable skills. When you do, everyone benefits.  The candidate benefits because the position represents career growth, and they will increase their marketability.  You benefit because you have access to a much larger talent pool that can bring new ideas to your department and your company will benefit because these candidates have a much higher likelihood, of becoming an engaged and retained employee.

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno, author of HIGH-TECH HIGH-TOUCH RECRUITING: How To Attract And Retain The Best Talent By Improving The Candidate Experience, is an internationally recognized recruiting expert who has a proven track record of helping recruiters and talent acquisition professionals become more successful and less stressed. She has created several popular LinkedIn Learning courses and is president of Good As Gold Training, HR Search, Inc., and Happy Candidates.

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