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What are Transferable Skills? - Preparing for a Job with a Criminal Record




It is crucial for people with felony convictions on their record to identify the skills that they have gained during their life; either while incarcerated or in past work experiences. Knowing what you can offer to an employer will help you identify the jobs for which you are the most qualified. Including these skills on your resume will help to set you apart from other candidates. Talking about your skills and providing examples of when you used them will also help you during interviews with employers. You will be able to explain how you have improved yourself and show that you are ready to get back to work with relevant skills despite what happened in the past.

What are transferable skills?

Skills are things that you have abilities to do. There are two main categories of skills: learnable and transferable. Learnable skills can be acquired through education and training. Transferable skills refer to the skills you developed in the past that can be used at many new jobs.

Skills gained in prison

You might have participated in work-training programs or done work assignments during incarceration. Even if you didn't like the work you did, it helped you gain essential skills. Working in the prison kitchen, laundry, or any other assigned job, shows that you have attention to detail and can follow directions. Think about these experiences, as well as your natural talents.

How can you identify transferable skills?

Many of the skills gained before, during, and after incarceration can be very relevant to employers. Follow these steps to identify your own set of skills:


  1. Review this list of common transferable skills (image of transferable skill table)

  2. Think about your strengths, skills, and all the things you know how to do.

  3. Think about a time when you did something that made you proud. What skills did you use to do that?

  4. Write down your skills and examples of times where you used those skills.


Take your time and find out what you can do and how well you can do it. Include these skills on your resume. Be prepared to talk about real situations where you used these skills when speaking with potential employers.


If you need help identifying your skills, explaining the gaps in your employment, or aren't sure how to include this info on your resume, our Employment Specialists can help! Click here to get free help updating or creating your resume.

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