our everyday life

How to Write a Competency Based Resume

by Rebecca Gilbert, studioD

Most people think of the chronological resume when sitting down to begin a job search. In this format, you would list your most recent job information first. But there are alternatives, known as the functional resume or competency-based resume. This style allows you to bring your skills to the forefront and focus on your abilities first. This type of resume works well for those who are changing careers, have a lack of job history or have large gaps in employment.

Objective or Summary

Put your name and contact information at the top, followed by your objective or a brief summary of your work history skills. Next, list your most recent job title and state how many years of a particular skill you have. For example, you might say, "Writer and editor with 12 years of writing experience and five years of editing books and term papers." This section should only be a few sentences long. Adding a major accomplishment related to the job you seek draws the recruiter in to read more.

Job Skills

Create a multi-column list of job skills you possess. These might include expertise in specific computer programs and programming codes, or any other professional skills directly related to the job you're applying for. These skills should inform a recruiter at a glance whether you fulfill the needs of the job. For example, a programmer would indicate what code he writes. An accountant would list accounting applications used previously. A student without much job history could list computer applications used during class or for homework. Do not include hobbies, volunteer work or personal information.


Rather than listing the company and dates you worked, followed by a list of job duties, the "Experience" section should be separated by specific competencies. List the job skill or title as your heading, and follow this with a list of all the experience you have in that function. For example, someone using the heading of "Customer Service" would list duties from every past job that related to customer service, from answering phones to greeting customers. Continue to list your job functions followed by the related descriptions.

Work History

Your work history isn't a requirement for a competency-based resume, but without it some recruiters won't look at your resume. If you do add this section, keep your work history brief and only list the dates of employment, the company name and your title. List them in reverse-chronological order. The duties and achievements were included in the experience section. This gives the recruiter an idea of your past work history. The downside is that it also reveals employment gaps or other issues that prompted you to select a functional resume.

Education or Certifications

Unless you're a recent graduate, education and certifications belong at the end of your resume. Any awards or special recognition are listed here. Include the date and name of the school or organization in chronological order. If you're a notary public or bonded, list these here as well. Any volunteer work related to your career goals can also be included.

About the Author

Rebecca Gilbert began writing and transcribing in 2003. In 2007, she started a resume-writing company. She earned an associate degree in sociology from Pima College and a bachelor's degree in communications at University of Wisconsin. Gilbert also does tech support for a major technology company and volunteers locally teaching job-seeking skills.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images