Ten Attributes for a Successful Job Search

Whether you are looking to start your first career, continue your career in a new location, or enter a new career field, there are certain skills that can be of value to potential employers regardless of industry. These skills are often referred to as transferable skills. When searching for employment, it is crucial for you to identify these skills, incorporate them into your resume and refer to them in your job interview.

Ten common transferable skills have been identified below to help you get started.


Unfortunately for job seekers, today's market is one that favors employers rather than employees. Employers are able to take their pick of many qualified individuals. An ideal candidate is one who is willing to be flexible to meet the needs of the employer. Be prepared to take on additional tasks and learn new skills. Avoid saying, "That's not in my job description." In an interview, you can stress your ability to adapt by pointing to specific examples of when you have taken on more work to meet a deadline or handled a task that is above and beyond your typical day-to-day responsibilities.

Technical literacy

Basic computer skills, particularly word processing, and working with spreadsheets and email, are necessary in almost every workplace environment. Note that community colleges often offer instructional classes for broadly used computer programs. If you feel that your skills could use some brushing up, you might want to look into taking a class or two. Additionally, free training on commonly used software, such as the Microsoft Office products, are available online.

When you are ready to begin applying for positions, be sure to highlight your experience with different software programs on your resume. You may even consider having a section of your resume dedicated solely to technical skills. List programs you are experienced with even if you don't anticipate utilizing them in a new position. Programs you used in the past could be similar to ones that your potential new employer utilizes.

Communication skills

Don't discount the value of being able to write and speak effectively. Spelling and grammar errors can make both the individual and the company look hurried and unprofessional, and no company wants to be perceived as such by a customer. Poor speaking skills can also convey a lack of professionalism.

Effective communication skills are very important during an interview. To prepare for your interview, check all documents, including your resume and cover letter, for any mistakes. You may also want to have a family member or friend review any documents that you intend to provide to the interviewer. You might want to consider having a mock interview with another person to practice answering common interview questions and improve your speaking skills. When the time comes for your interview, don't forget that listening is also a key part of communication. Be sure you are attentive to the interviewer and really understand the questions they are asking.

Multitasking abilities

A reality of today's economy is that many companies are looking for ways to drive down costs. In an effort to do so, employers want to maximize the productivity of every employee. They are seeking employees who are able to handle a variety of tasks with limited supervision. Therefore, it is crucial that you have the ability to multitask, managing your time and priorities. If you've worked in a fast-paced, deadline driven environment in the past, be sure to bring it up during your interview. Also mention any circumstances in which you completed multiple projects during the same time frame.


Creativity is not limited only to various design fields. Employers want to hire individuals who bring a fresh perspective to the table and think outside of the box. Your creative ideas could eventually become part of a product or service that is of great value to an employer. Make a list of any creative ways you provided business solutions for past employers. Be sure to incorporate the items you listed into your resume.

Problem-Solving skills

Every company in existence is likely to have its fair share of problems. They may need to improve customer service, efficiency, sales or public relations. A great employee is one who brings their analytical and critical thinking skills to the problem-solving table. To effectively solve a problem, you must be able to fully assess the situation and then develop a solution that works. Think of problems that may have occurred in a previous job. During your interview, be sure to emphasize your skills by providing specific examples of how you contributed to the problem-solving process.

Interpersonal abilities

No man is an island. Some positions may require more teamwork than others, but it's likely that an employer will be interested in your ability to work well with others. Be ready to provide examples of how you completed a task or project as part of a team, or even better, how you coordinated a team effort. It's okay to bring up an example of conflict within a team if the actions you took demonstrate your ability to alleviate conflict.

Strong work ethic

Every employer loves an employee who shows up on time, is motivated and consistently delivers quality work products. Individuals with a strong work ethic not only tend to be very productive, but also inspire those working around them to be more productive as well. Highlight situations in which you took on additional work and were able to complete all tasks assigned to you. Not only will it show your time management skills, but it will also indicate that you are willing to go above and beyond the minimum expectations.

Organizational skills

There is no better way to convey excellent organizational skills to an employer than to be thoroughly prepared for an interview. Bring extra copies of your cover letter, resume and business card with you. Check the company's website to see if a paper application is required. If so, bring multiple copies of the application as well. Some employers may require a portfolio for certain positions. Make an interview checklist ensuring you have everything you need before you walk out your front door for the interview.

Often the last question an interviewer will ask is, "Do you have any questions for me?" You should have a list of questions prepared to ask your interviewer. Having no questions can be perceived as a sign of disinterest. Do your research before your interview. Know enough about the company to be able to think of a few questions on the spot, just in case all of your questions have been addressed during your interview.


An interview really is about selling your skills to an employer. If you don't have confidence in your abilities, it will show, and the employer is less likely to have confidence in you. Dress for success for your interview, choosing clothing that is professional and comfortable. Make eye contact with the interviewer demonstrating your self-confidence and your communication skills.

There are many skills that can be transferred from job to job and career field to career field. Think about your skills; you may discover that you have all the skills on this list along with many more that can assist you in your search for the perfect job or career.

If you need information or personalized assistance with employment or education opportunities, visit the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities website or call 800-342-9647 to talk to a SECO education or career counselor.


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