McBride for Business Blog

Transferability of Skills: Does it Really Matter?

January 12, 2017 // R. Shawn McBride // No Comments »

We hear a lot in the marketplace about the transferability of skills. Can you move skills from one career or job to another? The real question is, does it really matter? Certainly, a lot of people focus their career, their education, and other decisions on whether their skills are transferable. There’s a good reason why. Obviously, you don’t want to spend a lot of time and energy building a skill that you can’t use somewhere else. However, I think a lot of people are surprised by the fact that skills are more transferable than you think.

I’ve worked with paralegals that were music majors. I’ve worked with people that were engineers that were building businesses. I see people with all types of skills doing all types of things. The old philosophy was you got an undergraduate education, and it was general education for life. It helped you prepare yourself, and I think interestingly, as the world becomes more and more specialized, more and more technical, it’s becoming more and more true that general skills are the key. While people are going to pay for a highly specialized or unique ability as we’ve discussed in other blogs, people want to know somebody with general skills.  The unique skills are built by people who focus in a particular area over time.

Most of the skills that we see that are highly, highly coveted and valuable that are unique, that add value, have been built outside of education, outside of a training process. A few weeks ago, I attended Heroic Public Speaking put on by Michael Port ( Michael Port’s wife, Amy Port, talked about how she was educated in theater arts and now she teaches speakers how to speak and use those skills. She was surprised that those skills became transferable because she had found a calling.

If we aren’t intentionally building skills in a particularized area, how do we add value? How do we find our way?

I think the key is to find what you love. Find your passion. As you follow your passion, you’ll be great at it. As you’re great at it, you’ll add value. You’ll find unique things. You’ll have a different view of the world. That will add tremendous value. I think the key when you’re experiencing life and you’re growing your skill set, is to focus on what’s interesting and unique. Look for opportunities, but don’t constantly think in terms of if I do this, is it transferable? As you build a knowledge and expertise, which is highly unique and specialized, the market will develop. Focus on your love. Focus on your passion. Don’t focus on transferability.

What are your thoughts on transferability? How do you plan around transferring skills? What would you do differently? Join us in the comments below.

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This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances.  This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity.

About the Author


  • Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment ( , gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at or (214) 418-0258.


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