January 18, 2018

Your Graduate Resume: Emphasize transferable skills over experience

Your Graduate Resume: Emphasize transferable skills over experience - Photo copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

As a college students and new graduate you might feel you have nothing to include on a resume or when filling out job applications. As a student any work experience might sees to be unrelated to your future job and career aspirations. Without relevant job experiences, the only information left to include is your (yet-to-be-completed) education.

But wait! There’s good news! You can construct your college student or new graduate resume with a focus on transferable skills.

Transferable skills that you might already possess or have developed through work or life experience include the ability to communicate well, the ability to work well with numbers, sales skills, or an ability to solve problems by looking at the big picture. These are only a few examples and they are all skills that can be useful in any industry or position.

So how do you list transferable skills on your resume, job application or cover letter? Here are some ideas that could help set you apart from the competition.

The Summary or Profile

The word is.. Objective Statements are out. Profiles are in. Open with a brief introductory paragraph describing your most “sellable” points. Briefly list your transferable skills here, or present them in a keyword summary list. This is exactly as it sounds: a list of keywords. Use those that show your transferable skills.


Depending on your college major, you surely had to write papers, complete projects, or both. What were the outcomes of these? Did you conduct comprehensive research on a subject? Design an engineering plan? Were these published or put into use in the “real world”? Use as much of your educational experience to your advantage as you can by focusing on the outcomes or skills exhibited or gained. You can also include a summary of coursework, which often demonstrates transferable skills that are used in the educational setting and in the world of business.

Employment History

Like many college students you might have a work history unrelated to your targeted field. If this is true, take heart. You can still include many transferable skills on your college or new graduate resume. At the most basic, you likely gained professional skills such as dependability, working with others, collaborating on projects, communicating with clients or customers, and much more. Your work history may not be as unrelated as it first seems when you change what you’re looking for. You’ll also be changing what the employer sees.

Additional Information

If you’ve done volunteer work or served as a member of an organization, you activities might have earned you some transferable skills that you don’t want to forget to include.Volunteer and committee work also demonstrates a commitment to helping others. If you’ve fulfilled any roles in a professional organization, this too can show transferable (and sometimes directly related) skills.

Take a  fresh look at your experience, education, and other related activities and with a focus on the transferable skills you’ve developed. Identify them and use them to your advantage! Your resume, college application, job application, or cover letter will be much stronger for it.

Now go out there and kick some…


About the Author: CTB Staff (48 Posts)

We read. We listen. We research. We ask the experts. We share. We wish you success.

Share your comments with us...