Transferable skills benefit workforces

Operating in a time of crisis can reveal hidden talent within organisations and increase the demand for new skills in some industries.

Building a skilled and motivated workforce is a significant contributor to business success. Sounds easy in theory but it can often be hard to accomplish. Our changing reality has encouraged employers to broaden their scope outside traditional talent pools and consider candidates with relevant transferable skills to fulfill job vacancies.

If you’re looking to recruit internally or hire new staff from outside the organisation, considering candidates with transferable skills does have merit.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills refer to a persons’ skills or abilities that can be adapted and applied to a variety of situations. They develop as we progress through employment, education or training and are portable between industries, departments and roles. Employers often consider transferable skills valuable because they can be used in many ways within the workplace.

While all jobs come with specific requirements, a person’s transferable skills may be just as desirable as experience when finding the right candidate for your business.

Here are five essential skills or attributes to seek out when recruiting new staff or reshuffling existing staff into different roles.

  1. Organisational & planning skills
    Organised individuals help businesses to plan, prepare and get things done within specified timeframes. They assist businesses to keep moving forward and meet the demands of the market in a timely fashion. Skills include time management, task prioritisation and administration, research, analysing and reporting and providing recommendations.
  2. Communication skills
    Communication is an essential skill to ensure workplaces run smoothly and information is conveyed effectively not only within teams and your company but externally to customers. Skills include listening and interpreting information, articulating ideas accurately, clear and concise written and verbal communication that positions your business positively.
  3. Interpersonal skills
    People skills are sought out by employers to strengthen their workplace culture and influence performance. Skills include empathy, co-operation, teamwork and flexibility. Candidates with developed interpersonal skills will usually be willing to adapt or change approach when required.
  4. Leadership skills
    Candidates with effective leadership skills can motivate and drive teams towards peak performance. Skills include prioritisation and delegation, analytical skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, coaching, mentoring and motivating team members to achieve goals.
  5. Information management and technology literacy skills
    Almost all positions will deal with managing information and using technology. Social media and adoption of e-commerce by consumers have changed the way businesses interact and disseminate information. Employing a workforce with the capability and knowledge to use specific software and who can sort, present and record data in an understandable manner is highly desirable in today’s technologically advanced world.

Benefits of hiring from non-traditional talent pools

It’s important for your recruitment process to attract potential candidates who have the right attitude, aligned values, are driven to add value to your business and fit your workplace culture. Finding a person who fits with your work culture is determined largely by qualities such as a candidate’s transferable skills or personal attributes and less on their previous experience. Hiring from outside traditional talent pools focused on direct experience and qualifications has many benefits that add depth, agility and versatility to your workforce.

Transferable skills are in high demand and there are a few reasons why:

  • Meets industry growth & labour market demands – candidates with transferable skills provide rapidly growing or newly created industries the opportunity to fulfill vacancies unable to be filled by current or non-existent workforces.
  • Brings diversity & productivity to your team – providing fresh perspectives, innovation and creativity and arming teams with different approaches
  • Employee retention – transferable skills can support promotions and transfer opportunities within the same organisation and used as a tool for succession planning and career path development. To employers, it means these valuable skills are retained inhouse over a longer duration reducing the impact and costs involved for ongoing recruitment
  • Builds loyalty – leads to more engaged employees as they’re given the opportunity to thrive and grow
  • Targeted training – assists employers to identify skills gaps and tailor training and development plans.

Identifying company fit transferable skill candidates.

According to hirers, on average, transferable skills should have an importance weighting of 63% and formal qualifications, 37% (SEEK survey research).

So how do you identify candidates with the ‘right’ skillset for your business? First, determine what ‘specific’ transferrable skills are favourable to the role and avoid industry-specific jargon when advertising your job. As an employer, you will need to look beyond the applicants resume and determine the type of skills they will bring to the company.

Utilising questions which draw out a potential employee’s skills rather than experience specific to the role will lead you in the right direction to finding the star addition to your team. It’s also a good indicator to predict future performance and behaviour of your potential employee. Start compiling your own set of questions or download our example questions as a guide.