Core Competencies/Skills/Areas of Expertise Of The Resume

Do you find it important, as a resume writer, to list Core Competencies/Skills somewhere on a resume?

It is essential to include Core Competencies/Skills/Areas of Expertise somewhere within the resume since these terms often constitute the search criteria that a company uses in an applicant tracking system to identify candidates for initial consideration. We want that resume to land in the “active candidate pool” file. I often also include a list of those keywords to make it easy for the hiring authority to immediately note these essential skills in the job seeker’s resume.

James Moore

Showcase Section(s)

If you elect to use a showcase-style resume, the next section (or two, depending on your circumstances) can be your Showcase section. Although you have a lot of discretion on titling and content, the key is to make this section substantive and impressive. Use lists and bullet points to make the information easier to read.

Possible titles for Showcase section(s) include:

• Achievement Summaries

• High-Impact Contributions

• Notable Performance Highlights

• Distribution or Vendor Partners

• Expertise

• Languages (Foreign or IT)

• Marquee Clients

• Product Knowledge

• Recommendations

• Sales Awards

Employment History

The Employment History section covers work experience for the last fifteen years or so. List employers in reverse chronological order. Work experience beyond fifteen years can be listed at the end with single sentences or as a grouping of employer names.

Begin with details on the most important items: current company/employer’s name, your title(s), and dates (in years). List what the company’s official name is now, even if it was purchased or merged after you began work there, e.g., “GlobalOutlook (formerly Global SpyGlass).” Many company names or initials could make it hard to figure out what the company is or does. Therefore, use a sentence that encapsulates the company’s position, earnings, products, and/or other unique qualifiers. As an example: NAME OF COMPANY: “A worldwide manufacturer of high-end personal-care products with $134M in annual sales.”

Most times, be sure to list the company name first, and only once. This reduces the likelihood employers will think you have job-hopped when you have not.

Next, follow the company name with your title. If this title is in-house and hard to understand, include a translation or generic job title. For example, you can substitute “Purchasing Agent” with “Product Specialist/Purchasing Representative” if that makes things easier for those who aren’t a part of your industry or company. Providing a functional title educates the hiring executive about your actual function and role. If you held multiple titles with the same employer, mention a date next to each to show promotions or advancement within an organization.

Job Scope Description

For each position, write a four- to six-sentence description of your duties and responsibilities (what you did). This could include information regarding the dimension and scope of the position, function, staff size, geographical reach, budget, reporting relationships, departments, and so on. Here’s an example:

Professional Experience

GlobalOutlook (formerly Global SpyGlass), Anytown, Anywhere 20XX–Present

Regional Sales Executive

Promoted to revitalize underperforming Northeast sales territory. Developed new business channels on a regional and national basis. Reestablished relationships with client base. Products included enrollment technology, analytics, and predictive modeling, among others.

This section can have other titles, such as:

• Career Experience

• Employment Background

• Experience

• Professional Experience

• Relevant Experience

• Work Experience

• Career Narrative

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Resume Summary

The summary brings together the experiences of your career into the present. It is a recommended section for seasoned professionals and should be a short paragraph with an overview of your most important job experience, technical or professional proficiencies, traits, and accomplishments. It can also be formatted as a series of bullet point statements.

For some tenured job seekers, there is a fine line to walk when writing your summary. You want to communicate your experience without coming across as old. Here you have some judgment calls to make. Let’s say you have over twenty-five years of experience. You could summarize that as “over fifteen years of experience.” It is a true statement that communicates experience without coming across as older. Or, perhaps you have thirty-five years of experience. You could represent that you have “over twenty years of experience.” The choice is ultimately yours. The concept is this: it is permissible to generalize your tenure in the summary section of your resume.

A summary section can have several different names, including:

• Career Description

• Career Summary

• Professional Qualifications

• Profile

• Qualifications

• Summary of Qualifications

The summary could contain some of the following information: level of responsibility, skills and responsibilities, potential contributions (as seen from the employer’s perspective), and highlights of top strengths and accomplishments. It emphasizes key information detailed later in the resume. Be sure to mention languages, special degrees, and other noteworthy skills. The summary acts much like an executive summary section of a long document or white paper. A simple three-part formula to help you create an impactful summary is:

1. A statement regarding your function or title, possibly including a reference to tenure.

2. A statement identifying your technical abilities and qualifications. Accomplishments can be included here as well.

3. A statement regarding your transferable job skills and/or professional traits.

For example:

Position: Senior Accountant

Statement regarding function or title: A detail-oriented CPA with over fifteen years of experience.

Statement regarding technical ability or qualifications: Proven ability in financial forecasting and analysis, audit, reconciliation, tax law, and evaluating and consulting with clients regarding business investments and opportunities.

Statement regarding transferable job skills/professional qualities: Conscientious, self-motivated, and service-oriented professional who enjoys client interaction.

Complete Summary: A detailed-oriented CPA with over fifteen years of experience. Proven ability in financial forecasting and analysis, audit, reconciliation, tax law, and evaluating and consulting with clients regarding business investments and opportunities. Conscientious, self-motivated, and service-oriented professional who enjoys client interaction.

After you have this foundation in place, you can add to it as your discretion dictates. An effective summary section should be concise. Many professionals make the mistake of making a summary too long. By using this three-part formula you will be crafting a solid, impactful summary.

What the Pros Say:

As a resume writer, what do you want to achieve with a Summary section?

Besides answering the three burning questions on every employer’s mind (Who are you? What do you do? What can you do for me?), I view the Summary section much the same as a movie trailer or the blurb on a book jacket. A good Summary will grab attention, pique interest, and create desire by presenting “the coming attractions.” Just like a movie trailer, we want the “viewer” to feel “this is one I’ve got to see” so he/she will set it aside to dive into later.

James Moore,

This is the most important part of your resume. It should highlight what you are most proud of in your career that is relevant to where you’re going, and any common threads of your career.

If someone found the top third of your resume, which contains your header and summary, lying on the ground, they should be able to tell who you are, what is unique about you, and the value you bring to an employer. Not only that, but it should make them look around on the ground for the rest of your resume because they want to read more. That is what I aim to achieve with every summary I write.

Core Competencies

Almost all resumes for experienced professionals and executives should have a Core Competencies section. Although there are likely hundreds of competencies and skills that could be listed, as a rule keep it to no more than three columns of five, totaling fifteen.

Your competencies should fall into one of the following major areas: technical ability (what you are good at), communication skills, leadership, analytical thinking, teamwork, and time management. These tend to be the broad skills most employers seek.

This section can have other titles, such as:

• Abilities

• Core Strengths and Expertise

• Key Skills

• Skills

• Signature Strengths

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Parts of The Resume

No matter what form of resume you choose, each has certain parts in common that appear in the same places, or serve the same function. These are:

Identification/Contact Information

This section appears at the top of your resume and includes your name (with notable professional designations), telephone numbers (home and/or cell phone), and email address. Including your LinkedIn profile address is optional. A new trend is omitting your residence address. This is acceptable, but still include city and state. Make sure your name stands out with larger font, bolding of the letters, or another technique.

No photos should appear on your resume (unless it is required in your industry). If they want to know what you look like they can look at your LinkedIn profile.

Email Address

Your email address must be professional. Some advocate that you create an email account tailored for your job search and the email address should be supportive of your branding, i.e., engineeringexpert@xyz.net. Avoid this. Many hiring executives view this “technique” with chagrin.

Make sure your email address does not contain any reference to your age or year of birth, e.g., Johnsmith1961, or shelia57.

There are several professional formats you can use:

• jsmith@xyz.com

• john.smith@xyz.com

• smithj@xyz.com

• john@xyz.com

• johns@xyz.com

• johnsmith@xyz.com

If you need to, add your lucky number, area code, zip code, or other number prior to the @ symbol.

Title

By titling your resume, it announces what the resume is going to describe so the reader doesn’t have to scan the entire resume to determine your professional background. Be reasonably specific with your title. For example, “Senior Healthcare Sales Representative,” “Casualty Field Claims Professional,” “Vice President of Operations.”

The title of your resume should align with your LinkedIn profile and the business card type(s) you choose to use.

What the Pros Say:

Is it important to have a title on a resume?

Yes, it provides clarity to the person who is doing the initial resume scan and deciding whether to consider a candidate further. Leaving off a title can also create confusion over which position you’re interested in applying for with larger companies.

James Moore

Yes. It is the equivalent to a headline on a newspaper article. Would you ever read an article that was missing a headline?

James Moore

Branding Statement

Your branding statement should appear under your resume’s title. This could be either a statement or a few descriptive words that relate to or support your brand. Some examples include:

Dedicated to improving sales through effective leadership.

Process Improvement • Manufacturing Efficiency • Strategy

Objective Statement

The objective statement has fallen out of favor for seasoned professionals and should not be used except for special circumstances (a significant change in career path, industry sabbaticals, and so on).

If you choose to use an Objective Statement, ensure it clearly states your purpose for pursuing a position with the employer. The content of the resume must support the Objective Statement.

Using an objective statement properly means keeping it short. Avoid such nebulous phrases as:

• “Opportunity for advancement” or “Advance my career”

• “Challenging opportunity”

• “Utilizing my experience”

• “Professional growth”

• “Increase in compensation”

State the benefits you can bring to the employer—not the benefits you want from the employer.

What the Pros Say:

What is your opinion regarding the use of an Objective Statement?

RUN AWAY! Employers couldn’t care less about your objective. They naturally assume that your objective is to secure employment with them. Opt for a position title, personal branding statement and career snapshot that show the employer how you can meet a bleeding need and be a benefit to their company.

Your resume is not the place to talk about what you want, it’s the place to convince employers that they’re going to lose out on all the great success you’ll bring with you if they choose someone else.

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Different Functional Resume Types

The Functional format emphasizes skills and qualifications to strategically sell experience that may align to the needs of the employer. A job seeker’s experience is divided into a skill-based section that demonstrates qualifications, training, education, and specific accomplishments, and a reverse chronological listing of employment including company name, title, and dates (toward the end of the resume). This format works well for those with gaps in employment and those whose career has involved several employers. Most job seekers should be careful when considering the Functional format since employers strongly favor a Chronological or Showcase resume.

What the Pros Say:

What is your opinion regarding the use of a Functional resume?

Don’t do it! The functional resume typically is the kiss of death to a candidate—it’s all about what someone “could” do in some context rather than about what the person has done and is likely to do in in their next role. When in doubt, go with the traditional reverse-chronological resume, as it’s easily digestible by the candidate’s audience, whether that person is a recruiter or a hiring manager.

James Moore

In ninety-nine percent (99%) of cases it is best to stay away from a functional resume format. Recruiters and hiring managers get confused by this ambiguous format that does not associate your experience with any specific job, so the resume ends up in the trash. It is almost always best to write the resume in reverse chronological format, with the current or most recent position listed first.

James Moore

The Showcase resume is a growing trend that has developed over the last several years and combines the best features of the Chronological and Functional formats. For most experienced professionals and executives (whether they have a more diverse employment background or not), this format is worth serious consideration. The concept is to showcase your best professional selling points—qualifications, industry knowledge, and achievements—immediately in the top half or top two-thirds of the resume’s first page. Work and education is then listed in reverse chronological order just like a traditional chronological resume. Using this format, you are allowed to be selectively repetitive. Some of your showcase items can appear again in the chronological section of your resume. This way, the hiring executive knows where and when you learned or achieved your showcase qualifications.

What the Pros say:

What is your opinion regarding the use of a Showcase resume? (a.k.a. Combination resume)

This is an extremely successful format if the job seeker is showcasing functions and successes within each employment.

James Moore

To me this is the best of both worlds. It allows the candidate to highlight older experience that may be more relevant, up front in a summary section. Then you still have a professional experience section that shows when you did what. Sometimes I even turn the experience section into a more functional format by listing a skill and then supporting that with an accomplishment underneath each job.

James Moore

The Dateless Resume

A dateless resume can be any of the resume formats just mentioned, and is void of any dates . . . employment, education, volunteer work, everything. Listing information this way is not recommended because a hiring executive will immediately notice and probably think “Oh my goodness, he [or she] must be ancient!” Raising red flags or emphasizing age biases is not the first impression you want to make. However, there is one viable alternative.

Provide dates going back only fifteen to twenty years, and leave off other dates. This concept can be used with any resume format. You can also group employment beyond your chosen time frame as a subsection to your experience section without dates. There’s a risk the hiring executive may still conclude you are a “tenured” professional. But it is a middle ground if you want to omit some dates from your resume.

What the Pros Say:

What is your opinion regarding the use of a Dateless resume?

Fatal mistake. It appears that employment gaps are being hidden.

James Moore

Haven’t written one in thirty years in the business; cannot imagine that I ever will. This wouldn’t be acceptable to 99.99999 percent of employers out there.

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