Demonstrating Competency on Your Resume

By Todd Kane - July 2nd, 2015

While the terms competency and core competencies may seem like the latest buzz words in the world of employment the truth is that this is something employers look for in each and every candidate.


Why Competency Matters on Your Resume

When reviewing your resume, any potential employer usually asks themselves the following questions:

  • What specifically does this candidate bring to the table? –
  • How will the skills and competencies benefit the organization?
  • How can I leverage this candidates competencies to help me/us achieve organizational objectives?

If they can find the answers they want from these questions in your resume, then you have effectively communicated your competencies as they relate to the position you are applying for. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (2015), competency is defined as “an ability or skill.” This ability to do something successfully can come from actual experience and from education and training. In many cases, it’s a combination of both.

I have hired thousands of employees over the course of my career and discovering the true competencies of an applicant is, and always has been, the most important thing I can do when reviewing a candidate’s credentials, screening the candidate, and interviewing them. This is my mission and to some degree the mission of every hiring manager.

In my work with students at CSU Global I find that while they may have rich and diverse experience in the workforce and have done quite well in school and in their program here at the university, they cannot effectively convey these competencies and doing so is mission critical for how to get a job.

If you, as the student and as the job applicant, cannot effectively communicate your competencies you will likely be passed up for positions and opportunities that you are in fact well-suited for. Demonstrating competency, being able to effectively communicate those competencies (in writing and during the interview) is essential to success.

To see how you are currently doing at this, try answering the following questions:

  • What specific experience do you have that is relevant to the position we are hiring for?
  • What, specifically, have you learned in school that will translate into the workplace and benefit the organization?
  • Why should I hire you?

You are likely able to relate your previous experience to the job you are applying for and to make those relevant, real-world, connections. What, in my experience, students struggle with is articulating their work as a student here at CSU Global and making that experience count as well. Through your educational journey you have demonstrated real competency. In addition to your work and life experience you need to use these competencies to your advantage as doing so will pay off.

How to Articulate Your Competencies

How do you articulate and take advantage of these competencies – that is the question. The answers (some of them anyway) are below.

  1. Make sure to hold onto job descriptions from previous positions. Job descriptions provide language that can help you to effectively describe responsibilities and duties. These can be highlight in the professional experience area of your resume, used in the cover letter as appropriate, and as talking points during the interview.
  2. Save those course syllabi. The learning objectives for each course can serve as language for the resume, cover letter, and as talking points during the interview. This can help to answer the “what did you learn in school, and how will it benefit my organization” question.
  3. Consider, at the end of each course, writing a one to two paragraph reflection of the learning that has taken place in the course. This reflection language, can again, be used in the cover letter, the resume, and as talking points during the interview. This is also a great opportunity for you to reflect, consider real world application, and be able for yourself to answer the “what did I learn in this class, and how will it help me in my future career” question. If you know the answer to this then you can share it with others. Place each of these reflections on a single Word doc. This will be very interesting to read as you progress on your journey and demonstrate for yourself why this education matters, how you have grown as a result, and how you can now use this to benefit the organization.
  4. Use the tools available through the Student Career Center located on the Student Portal. This is only available for current students and alumni, but another great reason to choose CSU Global for your online education needs. The tools here can help you to build a framework for effective career management, assist in the job search, provide opportunities to meet with Career Coaches in your particular field, and so much more.

Speaking of competencies and the Student Career Center – I have worked diligently with a team of experts in their fields to develop what we call Branded Resumes. A Branded Resume template has been created for all of our students and alumni. There are templates for each of the programs we offer here at CSU Global and are available for your use. Each of these templates contains the core competencies for your program – this is what you have learned (or will learn) in the program. Now, with the help of the branded resume you can answer that question.

Accessing the Branded Resumes is easy. Go to the Student Career Center and locate the heading on the right of screen entitled “Need Resume Help.” From here you have two options. You can either select the link for the templates, locate your program and resume, and download that for your use or access the OptimalResume product – they are available there as well.

We are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to with any questions you may have.

Here’s to your future!

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