What are areas of expertise? (With definition and examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

Every job seeker possesses certain soft skills, experience or technical knowledge that most other people lack, regardless of their profession. Depending on your chosen industry, your own attributes can vary significantly from those of another person. By reading this article, you can learn how to emphasise your personal attributes on your CV, to encourage employers to hire you. In this article, we define the term 'areas of expertise', before providing examples to help jobseekers to improve their CVs.

What are areas of expertise?

Areas of expertise are specialist skills, certifications and personality traits relevant to a specific profession or industry. If you possess these attributes, you're able to perform certain tasks to a higher standard than most people, making you more valuable to your employer. By highlighting your expertise on your CV, you can find it easier to convince employers that you're well-suited to a role, encouraging them to hire you. You may also use your expertise to prove to your current employer that you're worth promoting to a more senior position, boosting your career trajectory as a result.

For example, if you're a law graduate, you can benefit from highlighting your professional expertise, to divert employers' attention from your inexperience. You may discuss your time at university, such as your modules or specialist fields. You could also outline any useful soft or technical skills that you accrued at university. For example, if you took part in a mock trial, you may state that you used this experience to learn how to present a persuasive legal argument in a professional setting. By highlighting this experience, you can find it easier to secure your first graduate job.

Related: 10 personal qualities to mention in your CV

How can you highlight your expertise on your CV?

The section below includes advice to help you effectively highlight your expertise on your CV, to encourage firms to hire you:

1. Discuss your soft skills

Soft skills are personality traits that you can use to collaborate productively with colleagues, such as leadership or positive communication. You can often transfer these skills between careers, as they allow you to perform productively at work rather than provide specific subject knowledge. By highlighting these attributes on your CV, you can prove to an employer that you could adapt to their organisational culture, regardless of your work history. They may then feel more willing to overlook your relative inexperience, boosting your chances of securing a formal job offer.

For example, if you're starting a civil engineering career mid-life, you may benefit from highlighting how your soft skills relate to this field. If you previously worked as a software engineer, it's likely that you regularly used problem-solving techniques to overcome technical issues, such as correcting bugs in existing code. Problem-solving is also relevant to civil engineering tasks, such as designing stable structures to traverse an unstable physical environment. By relating your existing soft skills to this new career, you're more likely to impress the reader, encouraging them to hire you.

Related: 11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

2. Provide a sample portfolio

It's also useful to include a sample portfolio of written work alongside your CV, to give employers an accurate picture of your technical ability. If you're submitting your CV via the Internet, you could provide a hyperlink to your professional website, including samples that you created for another firm or contractee. You might also benefit from giving this website an intuitive layout so that employers can easily navigate between pieces of work. By detailing past successes, employers can better understand how securing your specialist expertise might benefit their firm.

For example, if you're applying for a mid-level role as a B2B copywriter, you can use a professional portfolio to highlight your writing expertise. In this situation, you could provide a linked list of published e-commerce articles, each covering a specific topic, such as digital marketing strategies. By including this sample, you can show employers that you're a high-quality copywriter and knowledgeable about your subject. You could then find it easier to stand out against rival applicants.

Related: How to build an effective work portfolio for your career

3. Detail your certifications

You could also highlight any professional certifications that you currently possess, to emphasise your subject knowledge. In this situation, you might discuss the modules that you completed during your studies, before explaining how their content relates to this position. By listing certifications, you could show employers that you're a hardworking candidate, who's willing to invest in their own skills to progress at work.

For example, if you're applying for a chartered accountancy role, you may discuss how you attained chartered status. If you secured chartered status via university, you could detail the varied academic modules and work placements that you completed over a period of several years. You could then prove to recruiters that you're a resilient person, who can overcome varied obstacles to achieve their career goals. You could also show that you possess sufficient technical knowledge to succeed in a more responsible accountancy role.

4. Adapt to your audience

Besides listing your own expertise, it's also important to adapt your CV to suit the audience's expectations. In this situation, you can review the job listing in search of useful keywords, which outline the type of candidate that the firm wishes to appoint. You could then deploy these keywords in your CV, explaining how your niche expertise fits these guidelines. You can also conduct background research into the firm's current commercial goals, before outlining how your expertise relates to this vision. By writing a tailored CV for each application, you're more likely to secure a new job quickly.

For example, if you're applying for an entry-level bid writing job, you could benefit from taking this approach. If the job listing emphasises time management, you may explain that you're able to write high-quality essays in a short time frame. You could also use your academic essays and professional writing work as supporting evidence. Conversely, if the job listing emphasises project management skills, you can detail instances when you worked closely with other students, such as in group presentations.

Examples of how to highlight expertise on your CV

The next section provides examples of how to properly format a list of soft skills or certifications on your CV:

1. Listing soft skills

This subsection contains two examples explaining how to list soft skills on your CV:

Changing career mid-life

This example outlines how to highlight key skills on your CV when changing careers mid-life:

This list details my key soft skills and how they're relevant to a teaching career:

  • Communication: During my prior nursing career, I was responsible for informing doctors of any changes to a patient's health. I could easily transfer this clarity to teaching duties, such as explaining lessons or answering questions about homework.

  • Attention to detail: As a hospital nurse, I was responsible for administering correct medication dosages to patients and monitoring their vital signs. I could also transfer this skill to teaching duties, such as marking homework or providing one-to-one feedback to students after handing out mock exams results.

Securing a graduate job

This example explains how to link soft skills that you accrued at university to graduate work:

This list details how the soft skills I developed at university relate to an accountancy career:

  • Time management: During my time at university, I managed to varied coursework projects to strict deadlines by using timetables to ration my time. I intend to transfer this practice to my professional life, to submit tax returns or financial audits on time.

  • Mathematics skills: When studying for a bachelor's degree in statistics, I learned how to enter complex figures into formulas. I could easily transfer this skill to accountancy duties, such as updating business records or compiling financial data into digital spreadsheets.

2. Listing certifications

This subsection provides two examples of how to list a certification on your CV:

Completed certification

This example explains how to list a certification that you already possess:

Advanced Certificate in City Planning British Planning Association, December 2018

Summary: During my studies, I completed a series of modules covering the key aspects of planning practice, such as property law and managing public consultations. I also undertook several exams and practical projects to test my knowledge of these subjects. To complement my academic work, I completed a 12-month training placement with UK Planning Ltd., worth 40% of my final grade. During this training, I gained an insight into the steps required to deliver a successful planning project, such as collaborating with communities or producing high-quality planning reports.

Related: How to list certifications on a CV: template and examples

Certification in progress

This example explains how to list a certification that you're currently studying for:

Advanced Certificate in Business Management (in progress)
The British Business Management School
Projected Completion Date: December 2022

Summary: Since January 2022, I've studied for an Advanced Diploma in Business Management. During this course, I hope to complete several modules covering good business practise, such as proper budgeting, managing colleagues and drafting business plans. I'm currently completing several coursework projects on these subjects. Later this year, I also intend to complete a three-month work placement with UK Software Ltd., to learn how to apply these ideas to practical work. During this period, I'll manage a small department of software engineers, under the supervision of an experienced professional.