It takes a lot of time and effort to become a subject matter expert (SME) — so if you are one, you want to make that clear on your resume.
It’s important to emphasize subject matter expertise on your resume if:
- You’re applying for a job as a Subject Matter Expert
- You work in a technical field or position and need to demonstrate domain expertise
- You’re looking to move up to a more senior role
- You’re applying for a position where subject matter expertise is important — for example, if involves things like training others, leading a team, making industry connections, or public outreach
Now that you know why you should say you’re a subject matter expert on your resume, the question remains — how?
How to write a resume as a subject matter expert
- Figure out what skills are the most essential for the job you’re applying for. Scour the job description for “must haves” and browse our database of hard skills and keywords for your industry or job title.
- Make a list of all the matching skills you have. You don’t need to meet all of the job requirements, but you should meet the majority of them if you aim to position yourself as a subject matter expert.
- Now it’s time to prove it. Come up with at least one example of how you’ve put each of those skills into practice. Ideally, this should be from your work experience, but you can also include things like qualifications, projects, or publications.
- Keep these examples focused on your accomplishments with strong action verbs and concrete metrics. You want recruiters to be impressed by your demonstrated expertise, not by a list of your job duties.
- Upload your resume to a free ATS resume checker to score your resume based on the key criteria hiring managers are looking for, including subject matter expertise.
Before we dive a little deeper into how to craft your resume, let’s take a look at a sample resume for a subject matter expert.
Subject matter expert resume example
Here’s an example of a resume that highlights subject matter expertise through a progression of job titles, strong accomplishments, relevant qualifications, and technical skills.
You can download this resume (and 20+ others) for free at our ATS resume templates page.
Ways to emphasize that you’re a go-to person on your resume
You can’t just label yourself as a go-to person. Or rather, you can, but don’t expect a recruiter to simply take your word for it. Here’s what to do instead:
- Highlight impressive accomplishments in your work experience section
- Add supporting information in an additional section
- Link to examples of your work in your resume header
- Toot your own horn in a resume summary or career highlights section
Highlight impressive accomplishments in your work experience section
Your work experience section is the star of your resume, and for good reason — it’s where hiring managers will look first for key takeaways about your background, skills, and experience.
When: Always! Your work experience section is the best place for accomplishments that position you as a subject matter expert.
How: Choose accomplishments that highlight your deep knowledge and background in your field of expertise, or include examples of times that people came to you for advice in a particular project or role.
Add supporting information in an additional section
Not everything will fit in your work experience section, and that’s okay. You can supplement your professional accomplishments with personal projects, presentations, publications, certifications, awards, and technical skills.
When: If you have any of the above that are relevant to your area of expertise.
How: You can opt to have one or two dedicated resume sections for things like skills, projects, or awards. Alternatively, you can create a section titled “Additional Information” to fit in a wider range of accomplishments without cluttering up your resume.
Link to examples of your work in your resume header
If you have concrete examples of your work, why not let recruiters see first-hand evidence of your expertise? Linking to your portfolio or GitHub lets your skills speak for themselves.
When: If you're in an industry where portfolios are standard (like software development or graphic design) and/or have a centralized portfolio with examples of your work.
How: In your resume header, simply add a link to your online portfolio.
Toot your own horn in a resume summary or career highlights section
If you have any outstanding accomplishments that add to your credibility as a subject matter expert, you can spotlight these by adding a resume summary or highlights section above your work experience.
When: If you can point to a few concrete accomplishments that establish you as a subject matter expert in your field.
How: Use it to highlight key aspects of your expertise, like your number of years’ experience, essential technical skills, awards, promotions, and other outstanding accomplishments.
Find out if your resume highlights subject matter expertise
A good way to check if the accomplishments in your work experience section highlight your deep knowledge and background in your field of expertise, is to upload your resume to the tool below — it’ll scan your resume and let you know if you’ve shown enough relevant and impressive accomplishments.
How to prove that you're a subject matter expert
Want concrete proof that you really have the expertise you claim to have? According to experts, these are the things that make the biggest impact on your resume, ranked in order of importance.
- Accomplishments. Real example of past achievements are always the best way to prove anything to a recruiter, from soft skills to industry-specific know-how.
- Portfolio. Having a GitHub or online portfolio is more important in some industries than others, but showing is almost always more effective than telling.
- Publications. In particular, peer-reviewed publications in credible academic or industry journals can help you position yourself as a genuine subject matter expert.
- Qualifications. Industry-standard qualifications (like PMP for project management or CFA for positions in finance and accounting) can really boost your credibility and expertise.
- Awards. Not all awards are created equal — an employee of the month award from a 10-person business isn't quite as impressive as a lifetime achievement award from a high-profile organization — but they're worth adding to an additional resume section.
Key tips for an SME resume
Before we go any further, here are the key things you should keep in mind when writing your SME resume.
Know what adds value — and what doesn't. Loading up your resume with anything and everything vaguely relevant isn't going to make you look like an expert. Worst case scenario, it may do the opposite — for example, listing every short course or online seminar you've completed won't add real value to your resume, but it might cause a hiring manager to question your judgment.
Emphasize your expertise upfront. If you think the finer details of your expertise may get lost in a quick skim or your resume, consider adding an impressive resume title, listing your years of experience in an executive summary, and making sure your most impressive accomplishments are right at the top of your resume.
Understand what being a "go-to person" means for your career. In some jobs, subject matter expertise can mean a fast-track to a promotion and working on more interesting projects. In others, it can be a one-way ticket to becoming an unofficial help desk for other people's issues. Emphasizing targeted, high-level skills, qualifications, and accomplishments can be the key to achieving the former (and avoiding the latter).
Essential skills for subject matter experts
The specific skills you'll need to be considered an expert on your field will depend on your exact situation, but in general, here's what hiring managers are looking for.
- Ability to train others
- Problem solving
- Commercial awareness and business acumen
- Industry-specific expertise
Most of these are what's known as "soft skills" — so don't list them in your skills section! Instead, here's how to illustrate them in the way that really matters — via your accomplishments.
Resume synonyms for being a go-to person
Looking for another way to say you were the go-to person on your resume — ideally without overusing that exact phrase? Here are some resume synonyms for being a go-to person that you can use when you’re aiming for a little more subtlety.
Start your bullet point accomplishments with action verbs like:
You’re aiming to highlight that a) you’re great at what you do, b) you’re adept at sharing your expertise, and c) people often seek you out for help or advice.
Now, let’s go over some examples of how to follow that up with effective resume accomplishments.
“Subject matter expert” resume bullet point samples
Ready to write your own subject matter expert resume? Take a look at these real resume examples for inspiration.
Advised senior executives and was lead SME (subject matter expert) on Robotic Process Automation and produced 10-page report; findings incorporated into bank-wide robotics strategy which is projected to save £2MM+ in the next 3 years.
It’s okay to come right out and call yourself a subject matter on your resume, as long as you have the facts to back it up. If you held an official job title like “Lead SME,” absolutely include it.
Acted as key contact for issue resolution and customer advocacy, reducing issues and complaints by over 45%.
If you were the go-to person on your team, you can use phrases like “key contact” to highlight that you built up a reputation as a subject matter expert.
Assisted senior management in refining outsourcing strategy, resulting in increased offshore headcount from 12 to 95 employees.
Being called on by those above you (especially C-suite or upper management) to help solve problems is always a good accomplishment to include, especially if it led to concrete results or taking on higher level responsibilities.
Conceptualized, redesigned, and presented enhancements to the data warehouse and stored SQL procedures, leading to 100x increased query performance (double digit minutes to milliseconds).
If you’re applying for a highly technical role, don’t just rely on your skills section to prove that you have the right technical skills. Choose examples of accomplishments that show those skills in action — bonus points if you can include the impressive results.