What Are the Best Core Competencies to Include on a Resume?

We have found that hiring companies that have experienced the most significant success also had a clear understanding of their core competencies and their recruiting process revolved around them.  As a job-seeker, it is essential to understand how to use these core competencies on your resume to demonstrate how your background matches the target company.

Once you understand the core competencies of the company you are interviewing with, you can incorporate them on lists, headlines, and in the body of your resume.  Keep in mind that you want to keep your resume concise and not too wordy.  Don’t just pile on a list of skills and competencies, especially if you’re a seasoned executive. Be mindful of this as well to keep your resume to one page.  Most experienced professionals can address many of these points in the body or qualifications section of their resume.

This article will show you:

  • What the definition is of core competency
  • Examples of core competencies at leading companies
  • Why it’s important to included core competencies on a resume
  • What the best core competencies for a resume are
  • A list of core competencies for a resume
  • Formatting core competencies on a resume examples

What is the Definition of Core Competency

A core competency is a concept in management theory introduced by C. K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel.  They defined it as a ‘harmonized combination of multiple resources and skills that distinguish a firm in the marketplace and therefore are the foundation of companies’ competitiveness.

Core competencies fulfill three criteria:

  1. It provides potential access to a wide variety of markets.
  2. Should make a significant contribution to the perceived customer benefits of the end product.
  3. Difficult to imitate by competitors.

For example, a company’s core competencies may include precision mechanics, fine optics, and microelectronics. These help it build cameras, but may also be useful in making other products that require these competencies.

Thus understanding a company’s core competencies and how your background relates to them is very important in job-seeking and particularly the resume-building process. It’s not only crucial for your resume but also when you prepare for behavioral interview questions.

Why Are They Important in Business?

Core competencies allow businesses to deliver value to their customers and set themselves apart.  If it is difficult to copy or develop then, it’s probably a company’s core competency.  A business can build their core competencies by identifying key strengths and investing in the capabilities valued by its customers.

job seeker understanding what are core competenciesWays that companies can set themselves apart include but are not limited to the innovation of products, quality, reliability, customer service, and technology.

Examples in Business:

  • Reliability and dependability
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ethical responsibility to self and others
  • Human behavior
  • Oral communication
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills

Upon understanding the core competencies of a business, many will devote resources to further develop and enrich their expertise in this area. One of the ways they do this is through an evidence-based recruiting process.  Another is through their corporate strategy in team meetings, in new-hire training, and continuing education.  Top companies focus on their core competency intently to become even stronger.

We have found that the companies that have experienced the most significant success also had a clear understanding of their core competency and made sure that everyone on their team knew it.

Asking for a Friend, Are Core Competencies and Skills the Same?

Glad you asked.  So what is the difference between a skill and a core competency?

As you may know, skills are a learned activity that requires proficiency and ability.  Skills are what you learn that enable you to perform specific tasks.  Examples of skills are typewriting, using a computer, and changing a tire.

Core competencies, on the other hand, refer to knowledge and expertise in a given area.  As mentioned above, examples of core competencies can be quality, the innovation of products, or customer service.

Why Knowing Them Is Important?

professionals agreeing on what their core competencies areIf a company develops and protects its core competencies at all costs, you can imagine how important it is for you as a job seeker to fully understand what they are and how your background enriches them.

As mentioned, we have found that the companies that have experienced the most significant success also had a clear understanding of their core competency.  They make sure that everyone on their team knows what it is.  That goes for the recruiting process, hiring, and on-boarding.  You can bet that how you enrich their core competencies will be a considerable part of the process.

How to Choose the Best Core Competencies for a Resume

As you might be aware, core competencies are often used synonymously with professional skills by job seekers. That’s ok because there isn’t a lot of room when you’re formatting and updating your resume.

To determine what core competencies to put on your resume, begin by making a list of them that would be appropriate. Make sure that your list includes all your hard skills and soft skills. If you find it challenging to create such a file, use our resume core competencies list to get inspired:

Take a good look at the job offer you’ve targeted, and identify what core competencies the employer expects of the candidates. Note down these core competencies.

Go back to your original core competencies list, and see which ones your list and the job ad have in common.

Found them? Great! These are the core competencies your resume should highlight.

List of Core Competencies For Your Resume

As mentioned above, core competencies are often used synonymously with professional skills by job seekers.

Remember that you need to identify with the values and competencies of the target company.  Once you know that, you can tailor your core competencies on a resume so that the HR professional or recruiter sees you’re a perfect fit.  Below is a list of core competencies to consider incorporating in your resume.

job seeker updating a resumeAmbitious: Is having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed

Avid learner: Shows that you are very eager or enthusiastic and willing to learn

Career-focused: Verifies that you are focused on moving forward in your career path

Results-driven: Means that you always seek to provide the best results

Collaborative learner: Shows that you like to work with other people to solve problems, complete tasks, or learn new concepts

Leadership: Demonstrates your ability to lead a group of people or an organization

Career-focused: Suggests that you are conscious about your career and the choices that affect it

Ambitious: Is having or showing a strong desire and determination to succeed

Flexibility: Shows that you have the willingness to change or compromise when necessary

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

Integrity: Indicates that you only submit finished work that meets your high standards

Communication: Shows your ability to share your ideas effectively with clients, coworkers, and managers

Responsibility: Demonstrates that you can act independently and make decisions without authorization

Adaptability: Indicates that you can adjust to new conditions.

Motivation: Involves your ability to keep yourself motivated, along with those around you

Focus: Shows your level of attention to tasks

Time management: Shows your skills in developing timelines and completing projects

Problem-solving: Demonstrates how you evaluate situations and find practical solutions

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

Commitment to excellence: Illustrates that you are someone who strives to do their best

Career-focused: Verifies that you are focused on moving forward in your career path

Be Mindful of Resume Formatting 

Remember that as a job-seeker, it is crucial to understand how to use these core competencies on your resume appropriately. Make sure your resume is targeted and highlights the core competencies outlined in the job description provided.  You can incorporate them on lists, headlines, and in the body of your resume.

Also, remember to keep your resume concise and not too wordy.  Don’t just pile on a list of skills and competencies, especially if you’re a seasoned executive. Be mindful of this as well to keep your resume to one page.  Most experienced professionals can address many of these points in the body or qualifications section of their resume.


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