How to Leverage Your Transferable Skills When Searching for a New Job

The healthcare industry needs talent. Earlier this year, this blog reported that the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the overall healthcare workforce had decreased 2.7% from February 2022. When looking at just hospitals, the workforce was down 1.8% from February 2020. 

While many healthcare jobs involve direct patient care, not all do. There are many other opportunities in the field that you may be qualified for even with no direct patient care experience. These qualifications are most likely transferable skills. Our transferable skills come from more than our prior work experience. They are developed through education, volunteering, hobbies, and participating in teams, clubs, and other organizations.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a new career, but the idea of going back to school or starting at the bottom is not ideal, you can rest assured that there are plenty of healthcare jobs you may be perfect if you have the right set of transferable skills.

Job applicants waiting to be interviewed

What Are Transferable Skills?

A transferable skill is “an ability or expertise which may be used in various roles or occupations.”  They are sometime referred to as “soft skills.” Indeed lists the top transferable skills as: 

  • Communication
  • Dependability
  • Teamwork
  • Organization
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Decision-making
  • Empathy
  • Initiative
  • Technology literacy

Let’s see how some transferable skills show up in a healthcare setting. 


Good speaking and listening skills are critical for employees working in a medical office as a receptionist or secretary. Communicating effectively with patients, physicians, team members, and patients’ families is essential to their job. Providing accurate and concise documentation is also very important in healthcare. Unfortunately, many new clinicians come to their jobs without honing these skills, unlike new employees from fields like hospitality, customer service, and education.


If you have worked on or managed a high-functioning team in retail or food service, you would be an asset to any healthcare setting. A team that fosters support and well-being creates a positive atmosphere. Most healthcare jobs are a part of a busy team with other staff members, and it is critical that the team works well together to ensure the office or department runs smoothly. 


If you worked in retail or food service or are a busy mom with kids in multiple activities, you know how to multitask. Many healthcare jobs require employees who have worked in fast-paced environments and can handle multiple functions. For example, you may need to deal with multiple patients simultaneously, order numerous tests, or record a lot of data correctly. The ability to stay organized and get the work done quickly and accurately would show that you would be an asset to any healthcare team. 


Being adaptable means being flexible and versatile. You may have had to develop these skills as a teacher or business owner. Adaptability allows you to learn new skills quickly and efficiently react to a changing marketplace. This is extremely important in healthcare right now because you can better adjust for common situations like understaffing. Adaptability also shows resilience. Change is never easy, but those employees who can keep up with change and still show productivity will be in high demand in the healthcare industry. 


Strong leadership skills include delegation, conflict resolution, project management, and goal setting. You may have successfully shown any or all of these skills in a previous role as a factory manager, retail store clerk, or college class president. Leadership refers to the ability to mentor, train, or guide. Leadership skills also result in employees showing more initiative and are more likely to want to ensure their employer is successful. Every healthcare position would benefit from a strong leader in it. 


If you can see yourself in your customers’ or team members’ shoes, you’ve developed empathy. If you try to understand your students or employees’ challenges and goals, you use empathy. These skills are vital in a healthcare setting, both in direct patient care and in a supportive services environment. 

As you can see, the “soft skills” you’ve learned and developed in other jobs or industries can be successfully transferred to many jobs in the healthcare field. But how do you communicate those skills to a recruiter? Here are some tips and tricks to do just that. 

Transferable Skills on Your Resume and Cover Letter

First, highlight your best transferable skills in a skills list on your resume. Generally, a skills list is at the bottom of your resume, but you can move it up if it is more impactful than your work experience. Use sub-headers and keep the list short. You could also include a small list on the side of your resume. Make sure to tie those transferable skills to the deliverables in your Experience section whenever you can.  

Instead of a traditional experience-based resume, you could write a skills-based resume. A skills-based resume highlights your transferable skills instead of your work history. This kind of resume benefits applicants who are changing careers or have gaps in their work history. In a skills-based resume, you can quantify the transferable skills that would be important to the job you are seeking. For example, you can highlight your success as a team leader at a retail store as an example of leadership and teamwork. Or you can focus on the research skills you showed as a student and how those skills would benefit an employer in a lab setting.  

Remember to discuss some transferable skills listed in the job posting in your cover letter. Provide a specific example of how you demonstrated an important skill in your current or previous position. For instance, if the job posting requires critical thinking skills, highlight your experience scheduling servers at your restaurant job or building a website for your retail store. The cover letter is your opportunity to tell the story about how you mastered that transferable skill, even if it wasn’t in a comparable job. 

At the Interview

The best place to provide evidence of your transferable skills is at the interview. Make sure you are ready to talk about your transferable skills as often as possible. Here are a couple of good opportunities to highlight your transferable skills in an interview: 

  • “Tell me about yourself.”– Take the initiative to explain why you are changing industries or careers, so the recruiter doesn’t have to. Then add to the explanation by offering an example of an important transferable skill you have as a reason why you are perfect for the job. 
  • “Why do you want this job?”  –  Show how you are an excellent fit based on the transferable skills mentioned in the job description and tie those skills back to why you are targeting the healthcare field. 
  • “Why do you want to work for XYZ?” –  Do research before your interview and mention something unique about the organization you are interviewing for. Then, note how your transferable skills will benefit or complement that specific characteristic. 
  • “Tell me about a time when you…” – This question is the perfect time to showcase your transferable skills. Tell the story of a job or a project that outlines your mastery of the transferable skills the employer is looking for.  

Skills-based hiring has become the norm in many industries, including healthcare. According to the Harvard Business Review, more employers understand that hiring workers with transferable skills will benefit the workplace more than hiring those with higher education or specific work experience. If you are considering a healthcare career but are worried about your lack of experience, your transferable skills may make you the most qualified person for a job. We are recruiting healthcare professionals for positions in various work environments and at all experience and education levels.

To explore employment options in healthcare, give us a call today at (602) 468-6300 or fill out the form below for more information.

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