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Hiring Smart in 2019: Why Focusing On Transferable Skills Can Help You Recruit the Best Talent

Posted on 16th January 2019 by Katrina Docherty

Mayday Blog Hiring Smart In 2019 Why Focusing On Transferable Skills Can Help You Recruit The Best Talent

Historically, recruiting the right employees has been all about the experience. In one survey, 91% of employers said that they trusted candidates to slide straight into their company structure and get to work when they had industry experience and hard skills.

At MAYDAY we’ve often found our most successful candidates excel in their roles when they have shown the right attitude and have had relevant transferrable skills, and our clients are realising this more and more; In 2018 increasing numbers of employers tuned into the power of transferable skills when assessing prospective employees, and this is only set to increase in 2019.

If you are to secure the best possible team for your organisation, you need to know all about these transferable skills, and why employers are starting to favour these criteria over direct experience. So let’s get started!

Understanding the Difference Between Soft, Hard and Transferable Skills

Before we go in-depth on why you want to add people with transferable skills to your team, it’s important to know the difference between hard skills, soft skills and transferable skills. These three different skill sets are defined as follows:

Soft Skills 

Your soft skills are simply your people skills or your attitude towards others. How well you get along with your co-workers is an important measure of these soft skills, which include elements such as teamwork, honesty, courtesy, reliability and work ethic.

Hard Skills 

On the other hand, your hard skills are job-specific skills that you have either learned practically or had direct training in. Hard skills can include things like job-specific software usage or machine functions.

Transferable Skills

Finally, we have transferable skills. These are the skills that you can adapt and use in a variety of situations, projects, or work environments, and include communication and critical thinking abilities.

Common Transferable Skills 

Although there are arguably hundreds of transferable skills, we’ve narrowed this down to a few core skills that most employers look for in candidates. These skills are not necessarily about what’s on the candidate’s resumes, but about what they bring to the company as a whole.

  • Communication – Effective communication and communication strategies were a top priority for 95% of employers according to a 2018 survey by Gatehouse. Communication includes asking questions, reading body language and conversing with people in different contexts.
  • Teamwork – Being able to empathise with your co-workers and work effectively alongside them are important transferable skills that encourage effective teamwork. This, in turn, boosts productivity and morale, according to one study.
  • Dependability – One survey showed that 73%of employers value dependability in their staff over certain hard skills or experience. They want workers that can be relied on to accomplish their tasks on time and to set a strong example to others.
  • Analytical Skills – Problem-solving and critical thinking abilities are invaluable transferable skills. With these skills, you’ll be able to take a problem and form a viable solution based on your research. The Wall Street Journal points out that the need for analytical thinkers has doubled since 2009.
  • Organisation – The ability to manage your time effectively to maximise your work, as well as the ability to research effectively, are important transferable skills. This will mean that you can move and adapt from one project to the next without an issue.
  • Learned Skills – Hard skills that you get from performing similar tasks in different industries or roles also count as transferable skills. For example, things like client management skills, administration skills and research skills fall into this category.

Assessing for Transferable Skills 

When employers perform interviews, they can’t look at a piece of paper and immediately learn about someone’s transferable skills, like they can with hard or soft skills. First, it may be a good idea to discuss with your recruiter why the transferable skills they have noted are useful for the vacancy in question. A good recruiter will have recommended the candidate because they believe the candidate will benefit your organisation, have the ability to do the job well and will pick up the new tasks quickly. The recruiter will happily provide more insight where needed. This allows you as an employer to then focus on asking a series of questions that gauge your potential employee’s level in these key areas and to deduce whether or not they’d be a good fit for the company.

You can then continue by asking behavioural questions and seeing how your interviewee reacts to different situations. For example, you could ask your interviewee how they’d respond if something went wrong with the project they’re working on. How would they solve this problem? Have them give you examples for each situation.

Another way to assess their transferable skills is by seeing if they have experiences that are similar and relevant to the position they’ve applied for, whether that be through seemingly unrelated roles or extra-curricular activities and volunteer work.

The Benefits of Hiring Someone with Strong Transferable Skills 

There are many benefits of hiring a candidate with strong transferable skills over one with a lot of experience. To start, this person could bring diversity to your team, especially if your current team already has strong hard skills. One study showed that companies with a diverse workforce are 70% more likely to capture fresh markets and stay relevant.

This fresh viewpoint and added diversity can allow your current staff to come up with new approaches to problems they may be working on. Also, there is a very good chance that the rest of your team will grow too as their way of thinking expands through being exposed to a new set of ideas and approaches.

The candidate you’re hiring may, in turn, require a little additional training, however, it can save your business energy and time later as these employees will be more engaged and willing to stay longer with your company as they’ve been given an opportunity to thrive and grow in a new way.

The key here is making sure these new transferrable hires have the right attitude and drive to do well; a candidate with the right attitude will be keen to learn, be prompt in their work and give as much as they can to their role. This great attitude can, in turn, revitalise your existing team, giving them a boost of energy to bring more to each project in the long run.

Are you ready to add an employee with strong transferable skills to your team? If so, we encourage you to contact us at MAYDAY Recruitment. We’ll help connect your business to an adaptable and driven candidate today!