Transferable Skills: Realizing Talent Mobility and Adaptability

Career pathways are much less linear than in the past. In today’s world, an expert may experience several job changes in their professional trajectories.
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Consequently, specialists in various industries may leverage cross-functional, transferable, or transversal skills to help them achieve maximum agility in the job market. Having a well-balanced talent mix can partly guarantee employability and also be a way to increase individual competencies.

Likewise, for an organization, leveraging transferable skills can be a strategy to cope with the tensions of high employment constraints that limit internal mobility. Cross-functional talents provide the agility necessary to adapt to evolving career trends and streamline resource allocation to strategic projects.

What are transferable skills?


Transferable skills are competency-based assets that can serve numerous industry sectors and job markets. They differ from specialized or technical skills, which can change depending on the activity but remain job-specific.


Take, for instance, a marketing director, a teacher, and a data analyst; they each specialize in skills that only apply to their particular roles. However, all three specialists also possess similar talents that enable them to deliver meaningful information to an audience.

Professionals can exploit general proficiencies like communication, creative thinking, and leadership to refine their competencies and diversify career options. Similarly, developing such transferable aptitudes can help companies drive ongoing conversations between employees and managers. The approach may also enhance efficiency in continually assessing individual and team performance.
Ultimately, establishing multitasking competencies can assist in identifying hidden insights and potential risks that could significantly impact talent mobility.

Tansferable skills' categories

Transversal talents combine soft skills, industry knowledge, and core values to develop new capacities and reinforce existing competencies. The main categories of cross-functional proficiencies include:

Interpersonal skills 


  • encompass everyday competencies, including active listening
  • conflict resolution, and negotiation

Intrapersonal aptitudes


  • revolve around individual values like confidence
  • empathy, and time management

Cognitive talents


  • involve mentally stimulating tasks such as data analysis,
  • learning, and reasoning

Digital competencies


  • require technological knowledge in content creation
  • e-commerce, and graphic design

Determining a valuable cross-functional talent mix

When identifying the perfect talent matrix, it is advisable to establish two to three transferable competencies that can cut across various career pathways.

Harnessing a manageable arsenal of well-polished aptitudes beats having many subpar abilities, which may be hard to capitulate.

Initial situation:

  • Company in strong external growth
  • Integration of several departments within the Group
  • Creation of a common base of qualifications for each profession
  • Avoiding the inflation of qualifications in the repository

Solution to streamline cross-cutting qualifications: 

For employers, it is essential to create a comprehensive competency framework for each role in their internal and external pipelines. Doing so may refine hiring schemes to make them transparent and ensure internal mobility is more objective. It can also help eliminate the inflation of qualification requirements when formulating job descriptions for various professions.


The advantages and limitations of transferable skills for internal mobility

What are their advantages?

Encouraging career development

Transverse skills are essential to accelerating business and career success. They can highlight your value and make your professional portfolio more appealing. A recruiter can also maximize them to inform hiring decisions that guarantee talent agility and dependability.

Responding to evolving needs

Most employers conduct training activities to encourage a culture of continuous learning and diversify talent. Developing versatile competencies can help firms and professionals adapt to the rapid evolution of business. Skill diversification may also reduce talent shortage risks by promoting autonomy and sustainable operational resilience. 

Improving talent management

Unlike technical or hard skills, which have a limited lifespan of about two years, functional competencies offer a lower risk of obsolescence. Transferable aptitudes cut across numerous industries, enabling companies to highlight their high-value considerations in internal and external talent acquisition wireframes. Firms may also categorize proficiencies based on their total interest-earning potential.

What are the limits of this typology of proficiencies?

Encouraging career development

Generally, having a healthy combination of multifunctional skills stimulates enterprises to re-evaluate their hiring practices to respond to changes sustainably. It also lets professionals elevate their core competencies to help them pursue various career trajectories when necessary. 

Responding to evolving needs

Nonetheless, there are several disadvantages to emphasizing the development of transferable aptitudes to optimize internal mobility. For instance:

Improving talent management

The professional training habits of HRDs are to focus their development policy on the key assets of company performance. Here it is required to combine 2 action plans:

  • A tailor-made program that takes into account skills and level differences for specific talents.
  • A generalist approach for a broader population in order to provide cross-functional expertise to the organization.


Evidently, the high frequency of changing patterns in the job market raises many concerns, such as employment insecurity and skill obsolescence. Identifying and honing multifaceted aptitudes can warrant long-term employability within internal and external career pipelines. 

Transferable skills may also allow companies to redefine, acquire, manage, and retain high-value talent

  • Ultimately, a good balance of talent complements personal pursuits like creativity and flexibility with distinctive and general qualities of various technical aptitudes.
  • They can help experts stay versatile and allow enterprises to achieve successful internal mobility.