Areas of Expertise: What Are They and How To Choose Them

Updated March 10, 2023

Areas of expertise are sets of skills or talents that someone has, which they can list on their resume. These skills can increase a candidate's likelihood of being hired since the employer can see that they are an experienced professional with many abilities. Understanding what areas of expertise are can help you create an impressive resume that highlights your skills. In this article, we discuss areas of expertise by defining them and explaining their importance along with listing different types of them and steps to choosing areas of expertise for a resume.

What are areas of expertise?

Areas of expertise are a person's professional skills and abilities that typically relate to an industry or field. A job seeker can list their areas of expertise on their resume, cover letter or portfolio to show hiring managers that they're a qualified candidate. On a resume, you can list your areas of expertise in a skills section. On a cover letter, you can explain your areas of expertise through specific, work-related examples. On a portfolio, you can list your areas of expertise on a skills and abilities page.

Areas of expertise can include skills, such as communication, leadership or time management. They can also be relevant skills to a job. For example, a computer programmer could list that they're proficient in several coding languages. Areas of expertise might also include specialties, such as a certification or being fluent in different languages. These areas highlight your talents and qualifications. Try to ensure that the skills you list on your resume apply to your field or industry. For instance, a musician might list that they can play many different instruments.

Related: How To Write Areas of Expertise on a Resume in 4 Steps

Why is it important to show your areas of expertise?

There are many reasons why it's important to show your areas of expertise, which may include:

Standing out

Showing your areas of expertise can help you stand out against other job candidates. This is valuable because there may be many candidates who applied to the same position as you. To increase your chances of receiving the job, you can differentiate yourself from the other candidates. You might have impressive skills that others don't list on their documents, for example.

Listing your qualifications

The main purpose of showing your areas of expertise is to list your qualifications. This is important because when applying for a job, you are trying to prove to the hiring manager that you're the most qualified candidate. If you're the most experienced candidate, then you have a better chance of getting the job. Areas of expertise are great ways to show your qualifications because they're your professional skills and abilities that are relevant to the job description.

Using their keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases employers use in their job descriptions that describe what they're looking for in a candidate. Showing your areas of expertise allows you to use their keywords. This is beneficial because it directly shows that you're the type of candidate that fits their job description. Try to list areas of expertise that reflect both your skills and the keywords that employers use.

Showing your education

Highlighting your area of expertise can show your level of education because some skills you gain typically stem from schooling. For example, you might list certification as an area of expertise, which you earn from taking classes. This is valuable because education typically makes you a more experienced candidate. For example, a person with a master's degree generally has more experience than a person with a bachelor's degree because they've spent more time educating themselves.

Related: 10 Key Strengths To Develop for Career Advancement

Different types of areas of expertise on a resume

Here are some different types of areas of expertise that you could include on a resume:

Hard skills

Hard skills are teachable abilities that you learn while training or working. They are tangible and measurable, which means you can see their results. For example, a chef may learn how to cook while in culinary school. Their cooking abilities are hard skills because someone taught them how to cook. The result of their hard skills may be the food that they cook. If you're an entry-level associate and you lack hard skills, your employer usually teaches you the hard skills you need for the job through training.

Soft skills

Soft skills are intangible skills that you learn and develop over a period of time. Since they're intangible, they may be more difficult to measure, but you can highlight your soft skills through your behaviors. For example, you can use efficient communication while working. Communication is a soft skill that you may not be able to measure, but your employer may notice how you're a strong communicator while helping clients. Some soft skill examples might also include critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Transferrable skills

Transferrable skills are abilities that you can transfer from a previous career to a current career. Typically, you can use these skills in multiple different roles. These can be skills that are directly related to your job, such as using your teaching license to switch from a high school teacher to a school principal. They can also be more generalized, meaning that you can use them in almost any position that you have. For example, you can use professionalism and teamwork skills in most positions. Transferrable skills are typically soft skills though they can sometimes be hard skills too.

Job-related skills

Job-related skills are abilities that are very specific to a certain career or industry. You may learn these skills while going to school, completing training or working at your job. For example, an accountant might list data entry skills as an area of expertise. A writer might say that editing is one of their areas of expertise. Job-related skills are generally hard skills because they are specific and measurable abilities that you learn through working or training.

Certifications and licenses

Certifications and licenses are also areas of expertise because they show that you're proficient or an expert in a certain field. For example, someone who earns a coding certificate has an area of expertise in coding. There are many certifications and licenses you can receive in various fields, such as programming, medical or business. You can obtain certifications or licenses through online or in-person classes. To become certified or licensed, you typically have to pass an exam or submit a final project.

Read more: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume (With Examples)

How to choose areas of expertise for a resume

Here are three steps to choose areas of expertise for a resume:

1. Identify your skills

First, you can identify your skills. To do this, make a list of all the skills you possess. Try to think of skills you've gained during school, training or a job. Also try to include soft skills that you've been developing for a long time, such as communication skills. Consider including specialty skills, such as certifications or licenses. Look at any awards or achievements you've earned to determine where you've excelled in the past. You could even ask friends, family or coworkers if they can think of any skills you have.

2. Read the job description

After you've listed your skills, you can read job descriptions that relate to your industry. You could look for project management jobs, for example, to identify the specific keywords that they use for that position. Try to read multiple job descriptions that are for similar positions so you can check for overlapping keywords. Aim to make a comprehensive list of these words and phrases. You can evaluate the list to see if there are any areas of expertise that you could improve upon to help you become a better candidate.

Related: How to Display Skill Levels on Your Resume (With Tips and Examples)

3. Check for alignments or similarities

Once you've made your lists of keywords and skills, you can check for alignments and similarities. This means that you check to see if there are any of the same skills on your personal list that are also on your keywords list. You can put the skills that overlap on your resume, which can help show the employer that you're an excellent candidate. You can add other areas of expertise as well, but try to only add the ones that apply to the job description.

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