How to Feature Core Competencies on Your Resume

To craft a standout resume, you must know how to showcase your core competencies effectively. What does this entail? Dive into this guide for detailed explanations, clear examples, and a simple list of steps to follow.

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What Are Core Competencies?

Core competencies describe the fundamental capabilities and attributes that make you stand out as a professional and uniquely qualify you for a particular job. In other words, the strengths that make you a well-rounded and valuable candidate.

Though they might sound very similar to key skills, core competencies are broader in scope. They combine skills, knowledge, abilities, personal qualities, and behaviors that equip you to thrive in the workplace.

Needless to say, including sections for core competencies and key skills in your resume can help present a comprehensive picture of your qualifications to potential employers.

Why should I add core competencies to my resume?

Adding core competencies can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your resume and boost your chances of being invited for an interview.

Core competencies on a resume help to:

    • Provide a quick snapshot of your key strengths so hiring managers can immediately grasp your suitability for the position.
    • Make it easy for busy hiring managers to find relevant information without having to read through the entire document.
    • Improve your resume’s chances of passing through applicant tracking systems (ATS) – this section is a great place to include the relevant keywords for which ATSs will be screening.
    • Highlight the unique abilities that differentiate you from other candidates, making your resume more memorable.

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How to Add Core Competencies Section for Your Resume

Crafting a resume core competencies section is easy if you know what you’re doing. We’ve broken the process down into a few simple steps:

1) Identify Your Core Competencies

What are your key strengths? What makes you good at what you do? Compile a long list of all your most impressive professional capabilities and qualities. Include a combination of technical skills, soft skills, industry-specific knowledge, personality traits, and other sources of expertise.

Remember that core competencies are usually broader than individual task-oriented skills and often comprise several related skills. Keep this wider view in mind when listing your strengths.

2) Pinpoint Core Competencies Valued By The Employer

Read through the job description for the role you’re interested in and jot down all the core competencies mentioned there. These might not be listed clearly as requirements but incorporated more subtly into the ad’s text.

For example, the description might say, “We’re looking for a team player who can meet tight deadlines in a high-pressure work environment.” In this case, you’d note that the employer values collaboration, time management, and stress management as core competencies.

3) Find Overlap

Look at which skills and qualifications appear on both your initial list and the one you created from the job description. You should highlight These core competencies on your resume as they’re most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

In the end, you should have a list of about eight options. If your list is longer, try to cut it down by selecting the eight or nine competencies most pertinent to the role.

4) Distill Descriptions Into A Short Phrase

This section is meant to be short and sharp so hiring managers can glean information with one quick glance. So try to capture your core competencies in just one or two words. For instance, instead of writing “Skilled at identifying and serving customers’ needs,” you could list “Service orientation.”

5) Present Your Core Competencies In An Easy-To-Read Format

You can use bullet points or a similar device to itemize your competencies and make them easy to read. It’s a good idea to arrange your list across, rather than down, the page so that it takes up very little space – resume real estate is precious, after all.

Many people choose to present their core competencies horizontally, separating each entry with a vertical bar.

For a marketing manager, this would look something like the following:

[Contact information]

Strategic Planning | Team Leadership | Accountability | Market Research
Campaign Management | Content Creation | Creative Thinking | Professionalism

6) Choose A Location

A core competencies section is usually placed below your name and contact details at the top of your resume. This ensures that it’s one of the first things a potential employer will see.

There’s no hard and fast rule about its placement, though. For example, you could add it underneath your summary or objective statement or down one side of your resume in a column. It is a matter of taste and what works for your specific needs.

7) Label It

It’s not actually necessary to title this section if it appears directly below your contact information. It’s quite clear what it is.

That said, if you want to name it, an obvious choice is “Core Competencies,” which is a phrase most employers will be familiar with. Otherwise, you can opt for titles like “Core Qualifications,” “Core Strengths,” “Summary of Qualifications,” or even just “Highlights”.

More Downloadable Resume Templates & Examples


This simple layout features a traditional font and the clever use of section borders to help each section of your resume stand out


This distinctive two-column resume template identifies your name and professional experience in a bold color and clean presentation.


A clever design that breaks each of your professional accomplishments into distinct sections while following a format that will pass applicant tracking systems.


The elegant initials, simple header and strategic use of bullet points in this template help keep your professional accomplishments well-organized.


The bold use of a colorblocked heading paired with an elegant resume layout helps your name and contact information stand out.


This structured design combines a two-column approach with bullet points to highlight your key accomplishments and professional history.


A traditional template uses a crisp combination of dark text and thin borders to radiate professionalism. Your name sits prominently above your professional history.


This template’s design features plenty of whitespace neatly divided by gray bars to make the information on your resume easy to read for employers.


This two-column resume conveys a very clear breakdown of its sections that allows a hiring manager to quickly scan your resume.


The subtle color accents in this template add visual pizzazz in a classy way, a great option for most traditional industries.


This resume’s modern design and bold use of color make it pop. Its uniqueness is well-suited to those seeking jobs in creative industries.


Everything about this template is assertive from the boxy layout to its all-caps heading text that gives the impression that you’re all about business.


The understated contact information at the top puts attention front and center on your professional summary, skills, work experience and education sections.


The subtle use of red alongside black gives this template a bold feel while still featuring plenty of white space to make it easy to read.

10 Examples of Core Competencies for Your Resume

The core competencies you choose to include when writing your resume will depend on the job you’re applying for. The idea is to emphasize the high-level strengths that align best with the position’s requirements.

To get you thinking, here are 10 examples of core competencies that employers highly value:

  • Project management: Adept at planning, organizing, and executing projects from initiation to completion, including budget and timeline management.

  • Customer relationship management: Skilled in building and maintaining positive relationships with clients or customers to ensure satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Innovation: Track record of contributing creative ideas and original solutions that improve organizational processes, products, or services.

  • Data analysis: Proficient in gathering, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data to draw insights that inform business decisions.

  • Attention to detail: Meticulous and thorough in tasks, with a keen eye for errors and inconsistencies, and a commitment to precision.

  • Strategic thinking: Adept at analyzing complex problems and developing long-term strategies to achieve company goals.

  • Quality assurance: Experienced in maintaining high product or service quality standards through testing and continuous improvement.

  • Cross-functional collaboration: Effective at collaborating with teams and departments across a business to achieve cohesive objectives.

  • Adaptability: Quickly adjusting to new situations, technologies, and environments, showcasing flexibility and resilience.

  • Research: Skilled in conducting thorough research, gathering data, and synthesizing information to support decision-making and problem-solving.

Where Else To Display Core Competencies On A Resume

You don’t need to include a dedicated core competencies section in your resume to showcase these basic proficiencies. You can incorporate them naturally into several other parts of your document.

While your skills section should be reserved for specific, individual skills (including tools and software you can use), your resume summary or objective statement and your work history section are two great places to highlight your core competencies and show how you’ve leveraged them.

See examples of how this can be done below:

Core Competencies: Resume Summary

Your professional summary presents the perfect opportunity to spotlight your core competencies. Work two or three of your most notable competencies into this paragraph alongside key skills and accomplishments.

The example below shows how core competencies like problem-solving, analytical thinking, experimentation, and self-motivation can be incorporated into a summary statement:

“Highly motivated data scientist with 8 years of experience applying skills in Python, R, machine learning, and SQL. Proven problem solver with a strong analytical mindset, adept at dissecting complex challenges and delivering data-driven solutions. Experienced in designing experiments to optimize strategies and enhance decision-making.”

Core Competencies: Work History

To give your work history descriptions extra impact, link your competencies to accomplishments that can be expressed in numbers. There’s no better way to prove your key strengths than to show how you added quantifiable value by leveraging them.

For example, our marketing manager from before might include the following bullet points on his or her resume to prove core competencies like strategic planning, team leadership, innovative thinking, and accountability.

[Job Title and Company Name]
[Dates of Employment]

    • Crafted a long-term strategic plan for brand-building that contributed to a 35% increase in brand awareness within a year.
    • Led a cross-functional team of eight members, implementing strategies that resulted in a 15% increase in productivity and a 25% boost in project efficiency.
    • Pioneered the use of AI-powered chatbots in customer support, leading to a 45% reduction in response times.
      Introduced an innovative content series that went viral, reaching over 1 million views on social media.
    • Took ownership of customer feedback and complaints, implementing process improvements that boosted customer satisfaction scores by 50% within six months.

Key Takeaways

  • Core competencies in business are the skills, knowledge, and expertise that set an organization apart from its competitors.
  • Core competencies on a resume are the key strengths and capabilities that make a job applicant stand out as an expert and valuable employee.
  • Core competencies are often a combination of skills, abilities, knowledge, character traits, and behaviors.
  • Including core competencies on your resume can help you get past an ATS and immediately grab an employer’s attention.
  • Examples of core competencies include project management, attention to detail, and emotional intelligence.
    A core competencies section typically appears at the top of a resume, just below the name and contact details.
Pro Tip:

Use a resume template to organize all of the sections in your resume effortlessly and to ensure your document is neat and professionally designed.

Core Competencies FAQ

Updated: September 28, 2023

Core competencies on a resume are the key strengths, qualities, and abilities that give a candidate a competitive edge and make them well-suited for a particular role. They provide a quick snapshot of an applicant’s strong points and qualifications so employers can assess fit at a glance. Core competencies typically appear near the top of a resume, often in a dedicated section.

Three examples of core competencies include abstract thinking, people management, and troubleshooting. Each of these competencies could set a candidate apart from other applicants and help them to excel in their role. Bear in mind that the job's requirements will determine which core competencies are considered most valuable.

Core competencies include broader strengths and capabilities that are relevant to the job or industry as a whole. They often comprise a combination of abilities, personal qualities, and knowledge that make a person a well-rounded and valuable candidate. Skills are specific, individual proficiencies that are often more task-oriented.

There is a fair amount of overlap, but in general, the core competencies section of a resume provides a broader, high-level view of a candidate’s strengths and capabilities, while the skills section offers a detailed breakdown of specific abilities, technical proficiencies, and software knowledge.

Browsing through real-life or hypothetical resume examples can inspire a job seeker and give them ideas for their own resume content. It can be very helpful to see how others have described their experiences, skills, and achievements for similar roles, particularly if you’re struggling to articulate your qualifications effectively.

In the case of a core competencies section, consulting resume examples can offer guidance on what to include and how to organize and present this information. It can speed up writing every section of a resume by providing a reliable reference to follow.


Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor McMahon, CPRW

Conor is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) for He has over three years of professional writing experience as well as experience in professional development training. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARWCC) Conor has written on career development topics ranging from resume and cover letter best practices, employer/employee communication, job seeking help, and more. He received his degree in Music Industry at Northeastern University and plays guitar in his free time.

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