Resume Concerns: Areas of Expertise vs Areas of Competency
I write a ton of resumes at MJW Careers and a more recent trend in the past few years is the area of the “Areas of Expertise” section, pun intended.
At MJW Careers, a large portion of our business is outplacement and just this week I was meeting with a client of mine at a medical device manufacturer and here’s how the conversation went when we were critiquing the resume I had developed for him.
Him - “If I don’t have much expertise in BLANK, should I have it under Areas of Expertise?”
Me - “No, but we need the buzzword under one of your job duties then”
Him - “Here’s a funny story on that…a buddy of mine had Areas of Expertise on his resume and a couple of the bullet points he wasn’t extremely versed him, but rather knowledgeable. So a hiring manager asked him to explain one of the lesser known bullets and my buddy fumbled. He lost the manager’s attention because he could tell my buddy was BS’ing his way through the answer. He lost the job too.”
Me: “Yep, let’s take it out.”
Him: “Well maybe we could think of another word for Expertise.”
Me: “Knowledgeable? Eh, I dunno if I like it.”
A few more spitballs back and forth until it hit me.
Me (after a few moments of visualizing into space along with few interjections): “Let’s change it to Areas of Competency”
Him: “Ooh, I like that.”
And so it was born (at least for me): Areas of Competency > Areas of Expertise AND you might be able to squeeze some more of those pesky buzzwords into your resume.