How to: Build Transferable Skills

Early in your career it is important to begin to build transferable skills. Building transferable skills will benefit you while you are at the firm, and also long after you have left.

For instance, some assignments better align that others with the direction you want to grow your career. Focus on building transferable skills that are valuable both inside the firm and in a broader context.

Said another way, minimize the amount of time you spend becoming an expert on processes/tools/activities that have little transfer value outside of the firm. Or once you become a partner. 

Minimize Non-Transferable Skills

The most dreaded words in public accounting: “We have a great opportunity for you”

This phrase is often followed by an offer to take on a role that is hyper applicable to the firm (and may hold little value anywhere else). For instance,

  • PWC sampling expert
  • KPMG online audit system
  • Deloitte research tool
  • EY client acceptance risk assessment process

If it is a proprietary firm software/process, run away

Build Transferable Skills

Instead, go deep in value-added, resume-building activities

  • Volunteer to assist on a business combination – this may mean extra work, but is often valuable experience
  • Instruct firm trainings – learn how to communicate technical ideas in an engaging way
  • Be a mentor or onboarding buddy – become an awesome mentor/developer of others. Note: this skill does not come naturally, it has to be developed.
  • Lead an office event – this exercise in herding cats will feel futile, but will grow leadership skills
  • Be part of a proposal team that pitches new business – almost all high-level jobs include a component of sales. Get exposure early in your career.
  • Develop an owner mentality – learn to think strategically

In conclusion, build transferable skills. This strategic thinking serve you while you are at the firm. And will follow you out the door when you leave.

Further reading

How to: Leave the Big 4

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