What Are Core Competencies? (Including How To Develop)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When crafting a resume, you have a set amount of space to make a big impression on potential employers. One key field to help you stand out from other candidates and define your capabilities is by including a core competency section in your resume. This area can help you present your abilities that align with the position or company that you're applying to and can encourage a recruiter to review the other information in your resume. In this article, we discuss what core competencies are, how you can develop them and some competencies to include in your resume.

What are core competencies?

A core competencies list is a list of qualifications that you have for a particular position. This section can include skills, certifications, technical abilities or personality traits that make you a desirable candidate for a particular position. There is no exact location that this section should be in your resume, but it's ideal to place it right after your professional summary or work experience.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Hard Skills

What are some benefits of including this section on your resume?

Including a key strengths section in your resume can help you stand out from other job candidates. Here's an overview of some of the benefits of including this section on your resume :

Secures the reader's attention

First, this section can help you get the attention of the employer reviewing your resume. It can also show them that you have the abilities that can help you perform well in that position. Employers might only have time to look at your resume for a few moments, so listing your core abilities can help show them your strengths immediately.

Presents you as a top talent

Including a key strengths section in your resume can help you pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). ATS software has the ability to read and analyse resumes before it gets to the employer. When this ATS software reviews your resume, it identifies certain keywords that the employer is looking for in a desirable candidate. A key skills section can allow you to incorporate keywords from the job description to increase your resume's compatibility with ATS software. This can increase the chance of your resume making it to the next stage of the hiring process.

For example, if an employer is looking to hire a marketing manager, you can incorporate keywords, such as SEO or social media, to boost your chances of getting selected during the resume screening stage.

How many key competencies are there?

While the ideal core competency list can vary between positions and industries, it's a good idea to include between 10 to 30 abilities in your resume. This can help you keep your competencies relevant to the position you're applying for. It can also help recruiters quickly understand your most valuable characteristics. Reviewing the job description for the position can also help you tailor this section to align with the employer's needs.

Related: Selecting the Right CV Skills in 5 Simple Steps

How to develop core skills

Some skills can be traits or qualities that you already possess. However, you can also develop certain skills through additional education or training. Some positions may value certain skills and abilities, so it's a good idea to identify and develop your personal competencies to enhance your alignment to certain positions. Here are some ways you can develop your key strengths:

1. Reflect on your abilities and qualifications

Reflecting and identifying your key skills can help you determine areas in which you excel and opportunities for growth. An additional benefit of self-reflection is that it can allow you to make better decisions, especially if you're in a leadership position. Thinking before you act can also help your performance in the workplace. This way, you can employ the most effective skill for the situation at hand.

2. Complete higher education

Higher education can help expand on the technical abilities and qualifications that certain positions require. This can also help you show your experience and expertise in the industry. Additionally, it can also make you a more desirable candidate for that position. Another benefit of completing higher education is that it can make your resume more ATS compatible as some employers might only look at resumes from certified candidates.

3. Attend training sessions

Many higher education institutions offer seminars or courses you can attend to help you improve your soft skill and technical abilities. These courses can vary in length and the course material can help you expand on your current knowledge.

Related: 12 Customer Service Skills: Definitions and Examples

Top competencies to include on a resume

Even though the ideal competencies can vary between positions, here are some examples of interpersonal skills that you might include in your resume:

  • Leadership: shows your ability to assemble and lead a team

  • Flexibility: shows that you're willing and able to adapt to any situation

  • Communication: demonstrates your ability to work with clients, coworkers and managers

  • Time management: shows your skills in developing timelines and completing projects

  • Problem-solving: demonstrates how you evaluate situations and find effective solutions

  • Teamwork: indicates you work well with others and thrive in a team environment

  • Responsibility: demonstrates that the company can count on you to complete tasks they assign you

  • Adaptability: shows that you can adjust to new situations and continue working at a high level

  • Analytical thinking: shows that you can critically analyse data and generate desirable solutions

  • Conflict resolution: demonstrates that you can de-escalate situations and work with others

Related: 10 Leadership Skills To Highlight In Your Resume

Tips for building your core competency section

Here are some things to keep in mind to create a tailored and effective competencies section:

Create a list of your top skills and attributes

When creating this section, make sure you use the qualities that describe you as the best candidate for the job. Include skills you're proficient in or certifications that show your dedication to the profession. Read the job description for any keywords that align with your own abilities. Try to make each ability unique and different to demonstrate your diverse skill set.

Keep each skill short

In your skills section, try to use one or two words to describe each skill or qualification. This way, you can use the limited space on your resume efficiently. To format this section, use either bullet points or separate each skill with a vertical line. Sometimes, structuring your points in a row, rather than a column, can help you maximise the space on your resume.

Tailor section to each position you apply for

You want to tailor every aspect of your resume to suit that specific job rather than sending out the same resume to every potential employer. Changing your key strengths section for each application shows your interest in the position and can increase your chances of passing ATS software. This also prevents you from including skills and qualifications that may not apply to the job.

Choose a layout

While the most popular place to add your top strengths is right below your name and contact information, you can also include them above your resume objective or summary. Choose a layout that you believe makes your resume the most visually appealing. You can also use a resume template as a guide when formatting this section.

Consider grouping your skills by category to make them easier to read. It can help hiring managers find the qualifications they're interested in much quicker. For example, you might group your technical skills under one heading and your interpersonal skills under another heading.

Resume example of competencies

Here are some examples of professional competencies examples on a resume:

Public administrator

The following is an example of a top skills section for a public administrator:

  • Budgeting

  • Organisational

  • Management

  • Policy Analysis

  • Research Methods

  • Public Speaking

  • Conflict Resolution

Mechanical engineer

The following is an example of a key strengths section for a mechanical engineer:

  • Problem-solving

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Analytical thinking

  • Prototype design

  • Continuous Improvement

  • Detail-oriented

Digital marketing manager

Below is an example of a core strengths section for a digital marketing manager:

  • Team management

  • Content writing

  • Digital media

  • SEO marketing

  • Project management

  • Market penetration

  • Marketing strategies

Customer service representative

Here is an example of a top skills section for a customer service representative:

  • Customer service

  • Relationship management

  • Computer literate

  • CRM systems

  • Written communication

  • Problem-solving

  • Organised

  • High-volume workload

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