Using a Competency-Based Approach in a Resume

Let your resume highlight your all-around competencies. A competency-based approach in a resume focuses on the skills and talents needed to be able to perform a particular task to a certain standard. The method uses a series of assessment tools (tests) that identify not only the technical skills a candidate possesses, but the candidate’s behavioral competencies as well.

Don’t confuse competencies with typical keywords employers use to search through databases for suitable candidates. Developing competencies for your target position and field makes sense because it concentrates your mind on the position you seek.

The types of competency-based models

Competency-based models can be broken down into two categories:

  • Work-based competencies. These include the job-specific characteristics, skills, and abilities, such as fluency in the Spanish language or the ability to work with Microsoft Word.

  • Behavior-based competencies. These are personal characteristics, such as interpersonal skills, attitudes, and motivation.

Although competency-based hiring models became popular in the United States a decade ago, they are in use chiefly by larger, sophisticated employers. If you’re aiming for a job with a large employer, read up on competency policy at each company. If the company uses the competencies model, note your measurable accomplishments, and then add your personal behavioral competencies that made them possible.

Including competencies in your resume

Most good resumes focus on knowledge, skills, and accomplishments. They only hint at competencies required to do the work. To capture behavioral competencies on a resume, you must show how your accomplishments confirm your competencies. Or to turn it around, you must show how your competencies made it possible for you to rack up home runs.

To connect your behaviors with your accomplishments, you might say:

Product development: Created new midmarket segment supporting an annual growth rate of 20% in a flat industry, demonstrating high energy and business acumen.

In the above example, the verb “demonstrating” connects the accomplishment (Created new mid-market segment supporting an annual growth rate of 20% in a flat industry) with competencies (high energy and business acumen). Other verbs you can use to bridge the two types of information include:

  • Confirming

  • Displaying

  • Exhibiting

  • Illustrating

  • Manifesting

  • Proving

  • Revealing

  • Verifying

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