Recently, I received a question from a colleague:
In talking to several resume writers and after reading in different publications about Core Competency sections on resumes, there are differing schools of thought about their inclusion in a resume, particularly when it comes to resume scanning software. What are your thoughts on the subject?
As with any resume strategy, there are usually differing opinions. The use of core competency sections, as you suspected, has a lot to do with building keywords into the resume to assist with resume scanning software.
Competency sections and keywords have reaaly become more of a focus over the last five years as companies (especially large companies) integrate applicant tracking and screening systems into their human resources departments. Creating a truly competency-based resume (instead of just including a listing of keywords in the Qualifications Profile at the top of the resume) is an approach that does usually yield better results for clients.
I wrote about "Competency-Based Resumes" in the November/December 2007 issue of Resume Writers' Digest. (Back issues are available for purchase for $3 each.)
As the article notes, the key with integrating competencies into the resume effectively isn't just built on sprnkling as many of them into the resume as possible, but really building the resume around the competencies that the employer is looking for.
There is a difference between keywords and core competencies. Keywords are nouns, phrases, and acronyms, including degrees, job responsibilities, computer applications, job titles, training, licensure, education, professional organizations, company names, awards, key industry terms, and geographic locations. Competencies are specific skills relevant to the job -- defined as "a written description of measurable work habits and personal skills used to achieve a work objective."
I wrote about keywords in resumes in the September/October 2007 issue of Resume Writers' Digest. You'll find some helpful tips for where to find keywords, choosing keywords, and integrating keywords into the resume in that article.