Core Competencies on Resume: Examples & Guide

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Core Competencies on Resume: Examples...
Sep 8, 2022 7 min read

The goal of every resume out there is to give you a better chance of getting the job you want.

But when you are creating a resume, you have two major problems -very limited space and the urge to make the best out of it.

You don’t know what core competencies are, and you have no idea how to use them on your resume?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we are going to go through a few very important points:

  • What are core competencies?
  • Why are core competencies important?
  • How to develop a core competencies' section on your resume?
  • How to choose core competencies for your resume?

Once we are done, you will have some serious knowledge, as well as some confidence in the matter.

If you are interested not only in this section but the overall impression your resume gives, we can show you How to make your resume stand out.

Don’t worry, we won’t give you just plain theory, we have some examples as well.

So let’s not waste any more time and dive into the topic.

What are resume core competencies

The first step we have to take is understanding what core competencies are.

In simple terms, your core competencies are fundamental skills and abilities that you want to show your potential employer.

They should always be directly related to the position you are applying for, don’t just write anything.

The main goal of this section is to get the attention of the hiring manager.

That’s why it is usually positioned front and center on your resume, right beneath your name and contact information in your Resume Header.

And another thing - make sure you list your core competencies as bullet points, rather than sentences.

Strengths & Achievements: A modern take on core competencies

While listing relevant skills in a core competency section is perfectly acceptable, employers nowadays look for concrete examples of the impact of your work. A more modern approach would be to have sections on your Strengths & Achievements. Open the editable template below to see an example.


Why resume core competencies are important?

There are two major reasons for including core competencies on your resume, and you shouldn’t ignore any of them.

Each one of them gets you one step closer to getting the job you want.

Winning the battle with ATS

Often when you apply for a job, your resume gets preselected not by a human being, but via software.

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) scans, searching for keywords on your resume, set by your potential employer.

If it decides you are a good enough match, depending on the keywords you used, it would forward your application to the hiring manager.

But getting through that software is not an easy task.

A great deal of resumes get rejected before a human being gets their hands on them.

But, knowing this, you can make sure you pass the ATS test without too much effort.

Read the position you are applying for carefully and find the perfect balance between your core competencies and what the employer is looking for.

And step 1 is complete.

Catching the hiring manager’s attention

But just getting through the ATS doesn’t get you the job.

Not even close, the fight is just beginning.

As we said earlier, the main goal of the core competencies' section is to catch the attention of the hiring manager.

And at this point, that is crucial.

Even after the ATS preselection, the hiring manager would still have to go through tons of resumes.

What you would want to achieve here is to quickly tell the hiring manager that you are qualified.

This is your opportunity to make a lasting impression and get your shot to get to the interview.

Furthermore, it shows the hiring manager some thoughtfulness on your part, as you value their time and show them what they need to see right away.

So, if you do this right, you should be one step closer to getting your interview.

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How to develop a core competencies section

So, let’s get to the main point.

You already know what core competencies are, but how are you supposed to develop that section for your resume?

There are 4 steps that you need to follow to do this right.

Make a list of your strongest skills and abilities

The first step to developing your core competencies' section is to make a list of all your strongest skills and abilities, relative to the position you are applying for.

The list should include anything that you would include in your Resume skills section, but focus only on the strongest ones.

The list should consist of between 10 and 30 skills or abilities and have a variety of hard and soft skills.

They may be skills you obtained while in school, during your past work experience, or learned by mentors.

Ideally, the list should make you the perfect candidate for the position, when the hiring manager opens your resume.

While making your list, read the job description for any keywords that you might be able to use, and try to make each ability unique and different to demonstrate your diverse skill set.

You need to show that you are a multifaceted and adaptable employee.

Everyone has a different list of core competencies, but some common examples include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Customer service
  • Organizational communication
  • Team leadership
  • Project management
  • Creative thinking
  • Risk assessment
  • Attention to detail

Change it according to the job position

Secondly, you would want to tailor your core competencies section according to the job position.

Doing so shows your interest in the position and helps you pass the ATS and get to the hiring manager.

What you need to do is take the list you created in the previous step and choose between 10 and 12 skills and abilities that are directly related to the job position specifications.

Featuring no more than 12 items helps you maintain the hiring manager’s attention and increases your chances for an interview.

Your core competencies' section should highlight the skills and abilities required for the specific position. Quality word choice is key.

Keep it short, but not too short

Once you have shortened your list according to the job position, you need to modulate it.

In the core competencies section, you would want to use no more than two words to describe each skill or ability.

Use descriptive language and make sure it is directly related to the job position specifications.

Its good practice to organize your core competencies in bullet points.

Another thing you might want to consider is adding them in a row, instead of a column, in order to use as little space as possible.

Choose the right place

Last, but not least, you need to choose the best place for your core competencies' section on your resume.

As we said earlier, the most popular place to add your section is right below your name and contact information - in the Resume Header.

But there are a few other possibilities that are just as good and may be more fitted to your resume design.

Examples of core competencies for your resume

It may still be a little muddy, so we got you covered by a few example core competencies.

You can use any of them, if they are applicable, or develop your own, using the same principles.

Once again, make sure you make the balance between the skills and abilities you possess, and those which are needed for the job you are applying for.

So, here is our list with both the core competencies and why they would be of value to your potential employer.

  • Leadership - shows your skills for assembling, leading and strengthening a team
  • Organization and time-management - shows you can keep up with timelines and complete your tasks on deadline
  • Communication - shows your ability to work with clients, co-workers and managers
  • Problem-solving - shows that you can step on your feet in tough situations and find effective solutions
  • Teamwork - shows you work well with others to achieve goals and help each other grow professionally
  • Detail-oriented - shows that you pay attention to details to complete tasks effectively
  • Responsibility - shows that you can be trusted to complete your tasks on time
  • Career-focused - shows that you are focused on your professional growth
  • Ambition - shows that you are goal-oriented and make sure your work is the best it can be
  • Result-oriented - shows that you always strive to provide the best result possible
  • Life-long learner - shows you are always looking for new ways to improve yourself

Another option for highlighting your core competencies, especially if your skillset is really large, is to choose a different resume format, like a Functional Resume Format.

Don’t forget your other options for a resume format either:

Takeaways: Core competencies on resume?

We are all done.

Now you know what core competencies are and how to use them effectively

You are now ready to get through the ATS and the hiring manager and get straight to your big interview.

Don’t forget - keep it short and to the point, you shouldn’t include information that is not relative to the position you are applying for.

Think about the positioning of your core competencies' section, depending on the resume format you have chosen.

Keep our examples in mind and make your section perfect for the job you seek.

Make your move!
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Make one that's truly you.
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Kal Dimitrov
Kaloyan Dimitrov is a resume expert and content manager at Enhancv. He frequently publishes blog posts around resume writing, cover letters & job applications, and authors more than 500 publications on the site. Kaloyan also runs a Career Accelerator Bootcamp for young graduates where he applies his practical knowledge of job applications and writing resumes and educates people on how to present their best selves in front of business representatives. His opinions on resume writing and career development have been featured in Chron., as well as cited by top universities such as Simon Fraser University and UCL.
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