Careers Advice

Identifying transferrable skills

Some students and graduates struggle to enter the job market due to a lack of work experience, but by identifying transferrable skills from outside of work you can boost your CV. As one of ScotGrad’s programme managers, Stepanka Jurenova explains, inexperience shouldn’t be a barrier to getting a foot on the career ladder.

Published: 14/03/2017

For ScotGrad placements, there is no requirement to have previous experience working in your chosen field, but to stand out from other candidates, you should draw on other experience to demonstrate why your interviewer should employ you.

As with any skill you identify, you should be prepared to back it up with examples of when you’ve used it in real-life scenarios.

Many organisations use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique when shortlisting, so use the 'STAR' format when articulating your skills and experience. More information about the STAR technique can be found at our application page.

To help you identify your transferrable skills and experience, we’ve helpfully categorised them into themes:


After reading our handy guide on how to find a placement that’s right for you, you’ll know to tailor your search to where your skills lie. Different roles will require candidates with different skills. For example, having a background or degree might be a requirement for jobs in the engineering sector, but wouldn’t be necessary for a business development role. Whatever you apply for, you should have some background in the technical duties the job requires. You may well have the experience from university course work or voluntary and extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in.


Written, verbal and other forms of communication are essential in any role in any organisation. You may have proven your competence in written communication through your dissertation, or reports you’ve had to submit as part of your course. You may have developed your verbal communication skills through taking part in plays or productions, in meetings of a student society, or giving a presentation.


Employers want to know how you will fit in with the organisation’s culture and how you build relationships with colleagues and customers, so you should demonstrate how you interact with people. You should highlight times that you’ve made a valuable contribution to a team. That could be through participating in a sport like football or netball, being part of a group like a band or a student society, or through a customer-facing part-time job.


Aim to show your potential employer times that you’ve displayed management qualities. For example, you could discuss how you’ve successfully managed your workload balancing coursework and deadlines with other commitments. You may also have managed money through part-time work or when organising events like a grad ball.

Your university career, including extra-curricular activities, has given you experience relevant for the jobs market and helped you hone your skills to make you an asset to an organisation. Check out our blog on overcoming the inexperience hurdle which provides practical advice on developing your knowledge and skillset.

For further advice on crafting a CV to help you stand out from a crowd, or tips for a successful interview, check out our handy careers advice blogs