What Is Technical Competency? (With Tips For Your Resume)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Technical competency in the workplace refers to skill sets centreing around computers, applications, technologies, and processes. Most jobs today require some degree of technical competence. Understanding how best to show your competency to a potential employer is essential during your job search. In this article, we discuss what a technical skill is, explore the different types of technical skills, and explain how to feature these skills on your resume and your cover letter.

What is technical competency?

Technical competency is when a candidate shows skill or ability in a specific role. You may associate technical skills with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). They're also abilities specific to policies or procedures, but these differ between companies. They imply a focus on cost-effective, sustainable solutions. Staying current with technical changes and building these skills into technical expertise increases your value to a company.

Depending on where you work, these skills include knowledge of:

  • technologies (3-D printers, video editing software, or email marketing)

  • products (computers, camera tripods, or USB foot pedals for data entry)

  • processes (project management, product launches, or event planning)

  • code (Python, HTML, or JavaScript)

  • applications (workflow, email or social media scheduling applications)

What kind of jobs require technical skills?

Employers in a variety of fields look for employees with strong technical skills. Technology focused skill sets are valuable in medicine, engineering, programming, and even accounting and social media management. You can typically see an organization's specific needs and desired skills in a job description. A required skill means they want candidates with strong working knowledge with these abilities before they start. Desired skills are ones the company could teach the right candidate, but they're a list of competencies that would make you a prominent candidate. You can categorize these skills even further into industry-specific and occupation-specific skills.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Industry-specific vs. occupation-specific technical skills

We associate industry-specific abilities with a high-level understanding of the company's or department's goals. This could include general knowledge of marketing strategies, how to identify a target audience, or an understanding of the process behind launching a new product. Occupation-specific abilities focus on very particular jobs. For instance, a nurse is more concerned with the general health and comfort of a patient, while a phlebotomist focuses explicitly on bloodwork. It's helpful to understand these differences when compiling a resume or preparing for an interview. Here are some examples of industry- and occupation-specific technical skills:

Industry-specific technical skills

Industry-specific skills are field-specific skills that apply to your specific field or line of work. You gain these through work experience and sometimes while earning your degree. Transferring these skills from one job to another can be difficult because of their specificity.

  • compiling a budget

  • risk management

  • planning the execution of a company product or project

  • use of project management tools

  • task management

  • coding and debugging

  • implementation of applications or software

  • designing, testing, and configuring applications

  • knowledge of security and documentation

  • knowledge of multiple programming languages

Occupational-specific technical skills

Whereas industrial skills concern themselves more with the overhead of a company's operations, occupational skills are specific to a particular job or occupation. For example, project management requires the ability to project, construct, and allocate a budget. An auditor or accountant must possess the more occupationally specific skills of credit analysis, and an extensive knowledge of economics. Occupational-specific technical skills include:

  • email marketing experience

  • HTML programming language

  • delegation

  • public speaking

  • familiarity with slide show applications

  • working knowledge of various software suites for word processing and spreadsheets

Related: Technical Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Improving your technical skills

Improving your technical skills can help you advance your career. Many employers help their workers continue their education by sending them to workshops or conventions. You can look for volunteer opportunities and use them to help build your online portfolio. You can also take advantage of free resources like online tutorials or books from your local library. Here are some free and low-cost ways to improve your technical skills:

Volunteer for projects to practise what you know

Plenty of non-profits look for volunteers to help them with data entry or budgeting. For example, as a grant writer, you can volunteer to help with finding funding, or as a phlebotomist, you can volunteer your time with a humanitarian organization. Volunteering through different networks keeps you practising your abilities and increases the number of ways you can find opportunities to further your education through seminars or workshops.

Another place to volunteer is within online communities of professionals with similar niches as you. You can find an independent project and become a part of it. There may be someone in those communities looking for a better understanding of their abilities, and you can act as a tutor or mentor. Reviewing what you already know, and breaking it down so someone else can understand it, often offers you new insights about your skill sets, even in your field of expertise.

Build up an online portfolio

Build up your online portfolio through personal or volunteer projects to continue expanding your professional network. You can discover opportunities to learn but also opportunities to collaborate. It can even help you find others who want to share their skills and knowledge with one another. Many passionate programmers know a variety of languages and are eager to collaborate with other creative minds. For example, by exhibiting your most recent HTML or CSS project, you could find someone who's interested in helping you learn Python so you can help them with a project.

Browse online tutorials

With social media, it's forever a good idea to check your sources. Online social media platforms are full of content creators who talk in detail about their fields of expertise. Gardeners and computer programmers, mathematicians and freelancers are just a few examples of people who post videos and content daily. It's educational and a great free way to expand your skill set. These content creators make it their job to know about trends, too. So it's possible that while you're watching a new tutorial, you might discover a lesser-known application that your company could use.

Read books about tech

The library is an excellent place to learn more about your role and relevant skills for professional development. Technical manuals, how-to books, and historical content about your industry can help improve your understanding of your job. Find lists of recommended books online, made by others in your field. Find out what they're reading, why they think it's relevant, and use their insight to discover sources that explore your questions and curiosities. Beyond that, you can continue exploring the new authors you discover, check their resource citations at the back of their books, and use that to expand your research.

Related: Common Technical Interview Questions and Example Answers

Showing your skills on your resume and cover letter

Having the ability and knowledge to work with technology is one part of using these skills to get a job. To impress a potential employer, you can exhibit these skills clearly on your resume and your cover letter. If you show your skills confidently and efficiently, you're more likely to gain the interest of a potential employer. Here are some tips for showcasing your strongest technical skills on your resume and cover letter:

Showing technical skills on your resume

On your resume, have an area dedicated to showcasing your skill sets. Listing your most relevant skills and strengths is key to show your qualifications. It's essential to keep the list concise and easily readable so an employer can skim your resume and still get an understanding of your strengths as a candidate.

Take this a step further by analyzing the skills the employer seeks. Look beyond their generalized terms, research their company, and gain a firm understanding of what they need. With that information, tell them what you can offer. If they need someone proficient in email marketing, tell them which relevant softwares you're familiar with, which you prefer, and why. When a company says they are looking for someone with copywriting experience, show them a piece in your portfolio that applies to their industry. Specifying your skill set helps you impress the hiring manager.

Related: The Most Important Engineer Skills for Your Resume

Showing technical skills on your cover letter

A cover letter is as specific to the job as the resume is. Focus on your strongest technical skills in the cover letter. Let your resume expand on that. List any skills on your cover letter that make you a distinct candidate. Communication is an important soft skill to include on your resume. Mention specific communication skills like team building or experience giving large presentations. Programming languages like CSS and Python are also likely to get a hiring manager's attention.

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