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Transferable skills and your degree

How to identify the transferable skills gained through your degree subject that can help you find a job.

Many employers will be more interested in your personal skills and abilities than your degree discipline. Whatever your subject, you will find that along with the academic and technical/specialist knowledge that you have gained through your studies, you will also have acquired knowledge and skills that can be used in other settings.

These ‘transferable’ skills are relevant to many jobs that may not be immediately connected to your degree discipline. For example, project work undertaken as part of a science or engineering degree requires you to develop a structured approach to problem solving; to think logically, analyse data and make decisions; and to present your conclusions in writing and in person.

How to identify your transferable skills

It is worth thinking about all the aspects of your course and coming up with a list of skills you have developed and which you would like to use in your work. For example:

  • A language graduate who has spent a year abroad will have gained insight into another culture, and adapted to new and changing surroundings: skills with potential value in a world which is increasingly international.
  • A civil engineering graduate will have the ability to deal both with complex technical detail and the wider demands of a project as a whole. Site work develops self-reliance, determination and initiative.
  • Mathematics graduates can handle intellectually difficult problems and this ability can be transferred to the work environment.
  • Historians are good at understanding and analysing issues and events.
  • Business and commerce graduates will have the ability to understand, manipulate and make use of numerical and statistical data and also have learned how to present complex information to clients and colleagues both verbally and in written reports.
  • A law graduate will have developed the ability to express themselves clearly and to state a case along with the ability to assimilate facts effectively.
  • Nursing graduates will have gained communication skills and analytical and problem-solving skills as well as caring skills. They can demonstrate adaptability and flexibility through experience in a wide variety of care settings with people of all age groups, cultures and ethnic origin.

Employability skills from your degree discipline

Below are some key skills that you could gain from particular areas of study.

Science and maths

  • Analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Computational and data-processing skills
  • Investigative and research skills
  • Numeracy
  • Organisational skills
  • Problem solving
  • Report writing
  • Researching and synthesising information
  • Understanding statistical data

Engineering

  • Analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Creativity
  • IT skills
  • Logical thinking
  • Numeracy
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Research skills
  • Team work

Social sciences

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Numeracy
  • Understanding statistical data
  • Problem solving
  • Project management

Arts and humanities

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical and evaluative thinking
  • IT skills
  • Logical thinking and reasoning
  • Research skills
  • Time management
  • Writing skills

Business and commerce

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Numeracy
  • Problem solving
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Team work
  • Time management
  • Understanding statistical data

IT

  • Analysis and problem solving
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Interpretation and recording of data
  • Logical thinking
  • Numeracy
  • Procedural and organisational abilities
  • Project planning
  • Research skills
  • Teamwork