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Business-Related Skills to Include in a Cover Letter

9 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Cover Letters

Your cover letter should highlight business-related skills you have that are highly sought after by employers. These include marketable, crossover, job-related, and motivated skills. These skill groups complement the core foundation skills that employers seek in their employees.

More specifically, these skill groups are identified by whether they have market value to employers (marketable skills), can be carried around from one employer to another (crossover skills), or are super-glued to a specific type of work or workplace (job-related skills). Still another term describes skills you’re really good at because you love using them (motivated skills).

Here are more details and some examples of these business-related skill groups:

  • Marketable skills: Simply stated, marketable skills are those that an employer will pay you to use. They’re often identified in job ads. By contrast, unmarketable skills are those that no one is likely to pay you to use — the ability to bounce for a mile on a pogo stick, for example. Also unmarketable or barely marketable: obsolete skills.

  • Crossover skills: You may have heard these skills referred to as transferable skills. Crossover skills are portable skills that you can use in a wide variety of jobs.

    For example, employers value communications skills in positions ranging from apple grower to zookeeper. You can transfer these skills from job to job, industry to industry, or even from one career field to another.

  • Job-related skills: Job-related skills are also called technical or professional skills. Because they’re suitable for a particular type of job, they assure an employer that you can actually do the job. You can’t always move job-related skills from one employer to another, but sometimes you can. (To gauge mobility, ask yourself: “Who would pay me to use this skill?”)

    Three examples of job-related skills: The ability to use a certain brand of mold-injection machine; the ability to perform cataract eye surgery; and the ability to spot cheating players in a casino.

  • *Motivated skills: “Do something you’d do for nothing” is the theme song of motivated skills. These are the developed abilities that you enjoy doing. Describing a motivated skill in a cover letter is a subtle way of saying you’ll excel at a specific assignment: One of my motivated skills is ____.

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The Essentials of Cover Letters

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