Including competencies in your CV: why and how?

CVs are the most well-known way for employers to form an impression of job applicants. That is why it is of great importance that you produce a document that explains in very clear terms who you are, what your abilities are and what knowledge you have. This is why things like personal data, education and work experience are fixed elements in the CV. There is, however, one more element that deserves discussion: your personal competencies. We will discuss this concept further in the following section, and explain its value in a CV and how best to incorporate mention of competencies into the CV as a whole.

Competencies: what are they?

The term competencies is currently being used to describe practically any form of education. These are the building blocks upon which an education programme is built: a set of skills that you need to master to obtain the degree for this programme. For example, did you follow an education programme in marketing? Then the attendant competencies are: result-driven work, cooperation, commercial thinking and being creative. There are countless competencies, and usually only a few of these are relevant to your future employer.

Technical competencies
The competencies listed above are also sometimes referred to as personal competencies, that is to say skills that are related to specific personal characteristics. There is another type of competence, however, that depends more on specific technical ability, and we call these technical competencies. Examples are:

  • Knowledge of online marketing
  • A specific sales technique
  • Proficiency in a certain software package

Why list competencies on a CV?

We recommend mentioning competencies on your CV for a wide range of reasons. First of all it gives the employer more insight into who you are. Competencies are unique for each person, for example if you mention on your CV that one of your strengths is developing creative concepts, this might be precisely the extra reason the recruiter needs to invite you for an interview. It gives them more insight into your identity than a mere list of diplomas; the list of personal competencies complements this list. And another reason is that it makes it easier for the employer to know something about who they are inviting prior to your meeting. Finally, work experience shows where you have worked previously, but doesn’t say anything about what your strengths were. When you mention your competencies you are saying something about your strengths, so that an employer has a more complete picture of who you are and what you are capable of.

How do I list my competencies in a CV?

As with the other elements of the CV, it is useful to present your competencies schematically. Will you decide to say that you are assertive, disciplined, flexible and loyal? Then it is handy to list these competencies in a column, with a short explanation behind each competence stating why this competence would be useful in the new job. It is also a good idea to think about which competence should be listed at the top, to subtly emphasise your most valuable skill.

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