Transferable Skills

Working in the laboratory allows you to learn difficult techniques and make important contributions to scientific inquiry. What may surprise you is that while you conduct experiments, you are gaining skills that you can use for the rest of your professional life – even away from the bench! These important and highly adaptable skills are called transferable skills.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are skills and abilities that you can apply across various jobs, industries, and areas of life. Common examples are communication, leadership, critical thinking, research, and organizational skills. After reading through this page, fill out our Transferable Skills Worksheet (download, save, and open using Adobe) to learn how the work you have done translates into transferable skills.

Why are they important?

Although they are often referred to as “soft” skills, especially when compared to the more specialized technical skills required in job postings, transferable skills are still very valuable to employers. Indeed, transferable skills are key skills in industry! This is not only true for jobs in industry, but in academia as well. To learn more about why these skills are important, read this article from Science magazine. While the article mentions postdocs, much of the information is applicable to all research trainees.

Do I have any transferable skills?

Yes! You have developed these skills throughout your life – at your university, home, and workplace. Our worksheet will help you identify which skills you have already developed. From there, you can think of which you would like to develop. For pre and post-doctoral trainees, we encourage you to consider incorporating those into goals on your Individual Development Plan!

I’ve filled out the worksheet, now what?

Once you are aware of your transferable skills, you will want to showcase these in your job search materials (e.g., resume, CV, cover letter, LinkedIn) and when networking or going on job interviews!