— November 8, 2017
Recruiters spend just a few seconds skimming your resume to decide whether they want to learn more or move on. An easy way to attract their attention – and that of ATS – is to have a solid core competencies section that quickly highlights your key skills. One mistake that job seekers often make is listing their competencies as sentences or short phrases; stick with just one or two words each such as “strategic planning” or “budgeting.” That’s all you need. These skills will ideally be elaborated upon more within your work experience.
Your core competencies section should complement your summary of qualifications and demonstrate your value as it relates to the position you are applying for. This is a section that is easily customizable to different roles – all you have to do is swap out keywords for ones that are more relevant.
What Competencies Should You Include?
This will depend on the job you are applying for and your field. Think about what some of the skills are that you use all the time. Is your job highly analytical? Do you do a lot of database management? Are you in charge of on-boarding new hires? If you had to describe your responsibilities and strengths in just a few words, what would they be?
It’s a good idea to mix hard skills and soft skills. If you’re going for a management position, employers value the ability to build teams or mentor others. A great way to zero in on exactly what employers are looking for is to carefully read the job description. Look for key skills they want applicants to possess. It can be helpful to read a variety of job openings and see what keywords you notice popping up over and over again.
However, it is not a good idea to lie about your competencies. If an employer wants you to be proficient with QuickBooks or have experience with web design and you don’t, avoid the temptation to sneak it in there anyway because it would look good. If you do progress through the hiring process and are asked to demonstrate these skills (whether as part of more extensive screening or because you landed the job), this can put you in an awkward position. You don’t want to have to tell your brand-new employer that you lied. Stick with skills that you actually possess.
If you find that you’re lacking experience that employers want to see, make the effort to brush up on your training. You can often find online classes or courses at local colleges or universities where you can expand your skills. Even if you don’t become an expert, it can be good to have a basic understanding under your belt and show you’re open to professional development.