When reviewing resumes, recruiters are looking to answer two questions:
What do you have experience doing?
What are your areas of expertise?
The first question is easy to answer, but the second one is more nuanced. For job seekers early in their career, this is usually covered by a skills section, but if you’re pursuing a more senior role, you may benefit from an areas of expertise section instead.
Skills vs Areas of Expertise
"Areas of expertise" on a resume is often used to refer to two similar but distinct things. One is a specific section found on more detailed resumes for senior roles, while the other is a synonym for a standard skills section.
Sound confusing? Here's a quick breakdown.
The first type of areas of expertise:
- Is usually found on senior-level and executive resumes
- Lists general high-level competencies
- Can go at the top of your resume
The 'skills section' type of areas of expertise:
- Is a standard section on all resume types
- Lists specific technical skills, techniques, and qualifications
- Belongs at the end of your resume
So, which type do you need, and how do you include the right one on your resume? Let’s take a look.
How to list areas of expertise on your resume
- Create a section underneath your executive summary and above your work experience.
- Title the section ‘Areas of Expertise.’
- (Optional) Include subheadings for key areas like finance, technology, management, etc.
- List 10-15 core competencies that relate to the position you’re applying for.
- List core technical skills in a separate skills section at the end of your resume.
- Avoid buzzwords and soft skills — stick to hard skills only.
- Expand on those areas of expertise in your professional accomplishments.
- Search for in-demand areas of expertise that could further improve your candidacy.
Here’s an example of areas of expertise listed on an executive resume:
Now, let's dive into a little more detail about how an areas of expertise section differs from a standard skills section — and how to tell which one you need.
Tips for including areas of expertise on a resume
Where to put areas of expertise on a resume
- Areas of expertise: At the top of your resume
- Skills section: At the bottom of your resume
Unlike a skills section, which belongs at the bottom of your resume, you may want to showcase your areas of expertise more prominently. Include your areas of expertise at the top of your resume, right below your executive summary and above your professional experience.
What to put in an areas of expertise section
- Areas of expertise: General competencies
- Skills section: Specific technical skills
Areas of expertise isn’t just a fancy word for a skills section. Avoid listing specific skills like “Microsoft Project” —a single software program is too narrow to be considered an area of expertise. Instead, consider the broader theme of your skills, like “Project Management.”
Senior-level and executive resumes often follow different rules to junior-level and mid-level resumes; for example, an area of expertise shows a broader theme of skills as well as more management and leadership skills. A quick and easy way to find out if your resume shows enough of these senior-level and executive skills, is to upload your resume to the tool below — you’ll get an instant review of your resume backed by insights from recruiters and hiring managers who recruit for executive and senior-level roles.
Find out how your resume measures up
To get the most out of your resume, upload it to a free resume scanner for specific feedback and tailored suggestions for improvement.
What areas of expertise to list on your resume
Obviously, the specific areas of expertise you list on your resume will depend on your skills and experience, but here are some common areas of expertise you can consider listing on a senior level resume:
- Operations Management
- Performance Improvement
- Software Development
- Product & Lifecycle Management
- Analytics & Data Science
- Business Development
- Technology Strategy & Execution
- IT & DevOps
- Strategic Planning
- Sales & Marketing
- Client Services
- Change Management
- Talent Acquisition
- Sales Leadership
- Healthcare Leadership
- Partnership Development
- Mergers & Acquisition
- User Experience Design & Strategy
- Executive Leadership
- Scaling for Growth
A good way to check if you’ve chosen the right skills to determine your areas of expertise, is to use the tool below to search for the job you’re applying to. It’ll tell you which skills are relevant to the position. For example, you can search for Chief Financial Officer and you’ll get a list of skills and keywords that hiring managers look for in a CFO applicant’s resume.
How to list areas of expertise on a standard resume
Are you writing an entry-level or mid-level resume and still want to include areas of expertise? What you're looking for is a skills section — a section toward the bottom of your resume that lists things like:
- Hard skills
- Foreign languages
It's still okay to title this section "areas of expertise," but "skills" is more common (and will ensure that recruiters — and ATS — can easily find what they're looking for).
To find the most in-demand areas of expertise in your job or industry, use our skills and keywords finder to search for a specific job title or browse skill profiles in popular categories and industries.
Related: How To Write a Resume Skills Section
Other sections to include on a senior resume
Senior level resumes differ in more ways than substituting areas of expertise for skills. As a key difference, senior resumes are longer — the standard length for an executive resume is two pages, compared to one page for entry or mid-level resumes.
In addition to areas of expertise, senior management resumes can include:
- Resume title
- Keyword-rich headline highlighting core competencies
- Executive summary listing the scope of your experience and top accomplishments
- Career highlights
Related: How To Write an Executive Resume