4 Ways to Make Transferable Skills on a Resume Pop!

Making a career change? Upgrading your professional image? Have a less-than-perfect work history? If so, highlight the transferable skills that speak to your future, not your past. Here are four ways to make transferable skills on a resume pop.

1. Create skill headings in your Summary section.

Pick the two strongest skills that support your job objective. Use those skills as subheadings to introduce each of two short paragraphs in your Summary section near the top of your resume.

For example, if you're going for a job as a technical writer, your Summary section might look like this:


Writing: Nine years as a writer for magazines including The New Yorker and Wired. Recent experience as a technical writer and blogger for Google.

Technical: Versatile with technical concepts, language, and functionality. Hands-on experience building websites that included subscription and shopping cart functions.

2. List transferable skills on your resume in a special section

Create a Skills section, in which you list skills and/or knowledge-sets that are relevant to your job objective. If you have more than ten transferable skills on your list within your Skills section, consider dividing them into either:

3. Use the Combination Resume Format.

The combination resume is a chronological format that uses skill subheading under each job title to organize accomplishment statements from that job. This format is widely appreciated by recruiters and employers.

To understand how combination resumes highlight the job seekers' transferable skills, check out my sample combination resumes.

4. Use the Functional Resume Format.

If you have a really checkered work history (lots of job hopping, employment gaps, or overlapping jobs that look confusing when listed on your resume), or you're making an extreme career change (let's say you're a dental hygienist seeking a job as an electrician), consider using the functional resume format. This format highlights two transferable skills in the body of the resume, and downplays the work history by placing it concisely at the bottom of the page.

Although the functional resume is not popular among employers, it may be the best solution for those with really difficult work histories. To understand how the functional format looks, check out my sample functional resumes.

In addition to showcasing your transferable skills on a resume, remember to mention them in your cover letter / email when appropriate.