How to sell your transferable part-time job skills for full-time work


I’ve gone through the interview process countless times and I think the most important piece of advice I can offer is: sell your transferable skills.

After graduating from university or college, many of us do not have the experience we need to land our dream job. What we do have, however, is a slate full of entry-level positions which may include server, retail sales associate, fast-food worker, and many other so called “useless jobs.”

However, one thing that many of us fail to recognize is that the skills you acquire in all of these jobs will help you become successful in your future career.

Imagine this scenario

Your interviewer on one side of the desk flipping through your resumé, saying, “So let’s go through your past experiences and what you can bring to the table in this position…” Meanwhile you’re on the other side fretting, thinking to yourself, “How am I supposed to highlight my qualifications when I don’t have any?” But you do!

Here are a few common jobs students hold, and how to identify transferable skills you can sell to any position:


You’re on your feet all day, remembering orders, juggling various tables. This translates to hard working and dedicated, quick learning and an ability to handle various tasks at once. Also constantly dealing with customers of all levels of difficulty builds character and resilience. You develop people skills and learn how to ensure client satisfaction while keeping a smile on your face!

Retail sales associate

You deal with many aspects of daily sales operations from point of sale purchases and returns, to organizing merchandise, to assisting customers in finding suitable products. This translates to the ability to multi-task, organizational skills, and always maintaining a positive attitude while helping customers choose that perfect item. Overall you have what it takes to manage various activities in order to reach the business’ main objective: earn revenue.

Fast-food worker

You work in a small area with a million operations going on at once. You have to ensure customer satisfaction, while working with a number of people in providing tasty food and drinks quickly. This translates to the ability to work in a fast-paced environment while accomplishing several tasks at once. This position also screams team work! You are typically working with at least a handful of people in streamlining processes to guarantee a smooth flow of operations to provide the customer with an efficient service and a satisfactory product (in other words, yummy food).

There are numerous other part-time jobs that students hold where they think it may be completely irrelevant to the industry they are applying to post-grad work. If you take a look at the few examples I listed, you will see that there are elements of required traits and qualifications hidden in each job description.

Think about that restaurant you are applying to, or that store you walk in to give out your resume and how it may benefit you in the future. This way you start at the bottom, but know what steps to take to climb your way up the ladder.

One thing to remember is that there are core competencies acquired in every single job you hold, and the real skill is knowing how extract them from an old job, and apply it to a new one.

About the author

Sasha Rana is an honours commerce graduate from McMaster University, currently working as a sales account executive. During her four years at Mac, she was the director of the Student Community Support Network for the McMaster Students Union, a teaching assistant, and involved in various campus clubs, planning events and fundraising initiatives. She frequently wrote for her service’s newsletter, the campus newspaper, as well as a local community newsletter. She would like to continue her passion for sharing her thoughts and experiences, while reaching out to fellow new grads.