How to highlight business acumen skills on your CV

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 August 2022

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.

Understanding different business situations is a crucial responsibility for many roles, requiring employees to use their knowledge to comprehend and manage challenges that arise within a company. If you're considering applying for a position in management or at a high level, learning business acumen abilities and showcasing them on your CV is valuable. As a skill set with multiple abilities, highlighting your strengths effectively shows hiring managers you're suitable for their vacant roles. In this article, we define what business acumen skills are, explain how to highlight them on your CV and offer some tips.

What are business acumen skills?

Business acumen skills relate to how you understand and manage different business issues and scenarios, including how to cope with changes, be flexible and achieve goals for the success of a business. This skill set is also called business savvy or business sense and includes a range of skills that benefit businesses. High-level positions, such as upper management roles, often require these skills to accommodate critical responsibilities, including leadership, business decision-making and strategic thinking.

Skills in business acumen allow professionals to make competent decisions that affect the success of a business. For example, as a management professional, you may respond quickly and appropriately to financial problems within a company. Skills in business acumen provide the resources and knowledge to make decisions and be flexible as business needs change. Interviewers look for strong business acumen abilities in leadership roles, making it necessary to highlight these skills on your application as part of your CV and cover letter. Examples include:

  • leadership

  • strategic planning

  • financial understanding

  • market perspective

  • marketing

  • problem-solving skills

  • analytical skills

  • communication

Related: Leadership definitions (qualities and how to improve)

How to highlight business acumen skills on your CV

If you plan to apply for leadership or management positions, ensuring you include skills in business acumen is valuable for meeting the criteria for specific roles. For example, some interviewers may look for problem-solving or strategic-planning skills when hiring business professionals. Here are some of the steps to follow to highlight business acumen as a skill set on your CV:

1. List your strengths in business acumen

Starting by listing and defining your skills in business acumen helps identify your specific strengths to narrow down which abilities to include on your CV. For example, if you have a history of strong communication skills and knowledge of different business strategies, these are skills in business acumen that are valuable for your job application. Once you've listed all your skills, you can order them in a way that makes the most sense for the role, such as by the level of experience or relevance.

Related: The ultimate guide to CV basics (with example)

2. Research the company's priorities and strategies

Reading the job description of the position you'd like to apply to provides valuable insight into the specific skills a hiring manager is looking for. For example, a job description may include requirements for skills in particular business strategy methods or knowledge of business finances as a part of the responsibilities for the role. Researching a company's priorities by looking at its website and online presence also helps to provide extra context into what they consider essential, such as having a strong understanding of the market to benefit the business and its customers.

3. Define which skills are most beneficial

Using your list and the information you gather from the job description and online resources, you can decide on the ideal skills to include on your CV. As your CV is a short document, it's important to focus on the most beneficial skills over listing every single business acumen ability. For example, if the role involves managing or leading others, including your leadership skills, it may be a valuable addition to your CV. Considering which skills are less relevant, such as financial knowledge in a non-finance-related position, is also helpful for making the right choice.

Related: Resume vs. CV: What are the differences?

4. Include skills in your professional summary

Your professional summary is the first impression potential employers have of your skill, knowledge and experience. This summary is typically a single paragraph, with three or four sentences to provide context to you as a potential employee. Including reference to your business acumen capabilities helps provide potential employers with helpful information. For example, you could talk about your experience leading a team or your ability to adapt to business strategy changes to suit the company's needs.

5. Add business acumen abilities in your skills section

Your skills section provides the ideal way to showcase some of your critical skills in business acumen. This section typically features a short list of key skills relevant to a specific position. For instance, if you're applying for a job as a CEO of a company, you may include skills in leadership, business analytics and strategic thinking in this section. It's important to consider the job description when listing abilities in this section, finding any specific keywords employers may look for in job applications.

Related: Top hard skills for your resume and how to include them

6. List relevant business acumen certifications and qualifications

These are valuable additions to your CV if you have certifications or qualifications related to different areas of business acumen. Your achievements in business-related skills show your capability in that area, which is particularly important for high-level positions in companies. Memberships to professional groups, such as a leadership or management group, may also be valuable in this section of your CV, providing a way to contextualise your skill level in a particular area.

7. Reference this skill set in your work history

Listing your work experience on your CV allows you to include information about how you've used different skills in business acumen to benefit employers in the past. For example, if your past employer experienced significant growth because of your contributions, indicating this is an effective way to highlight your skills in that area. Writing descriptions of what you achieved in your past job, including several references to ways business acumen abilities benefited your workplace, is a valuable source of information for hiring managers.

Related: How to show a promotion on your CV (with examples)

8. Expand upon your skills in your cover letter

Once you've highlighted your skills on your CV, you can expand your knowledge with your cover letter. You include both your cover letter and CV when applying for jobs, making it essential to include abilities in business acumen across both documents. Using the list of relevant skills you put together for your CV is valuable in knowing the particular skills to highlight when writing your accompanying cover letter.

9. Prepare to answer questions about your business acumen at an interview

Ensuring you're prepared to answer any questions about the business acumen abilities you include on your CV is ideal for making a good impression during your interview. For instance, preparing an example of when you've used different skills in your previous work helps you answer specific questions in the interview process. If relevant, you can also bring up other business acumen abilities you haven't included on your CV in your interview.

Tips for improving business acumen abilities

If you have limited experience with skills in business acumen, increasing your knowledge is a valuable option to make you a stronger candidate for senior-level positions. For example, training in a particular skill may help your CV stand out, leading to you continuing onto the interview stage of the hiring process. Some tips for improving your skills in business acumen include:

Attending formal training

Going into education to learn new skills is a valuable way to improve your knowledge of business acumen. For example, you could attend a short course on improving leadership or consider applying for a degree in a business-related area. Both long-term education and shorter-term certifications are valuable to provide more skills for your CV.

Related: What are common workplace training methods? (With tips)

Taking on extra workplace responsibilities

Agreeing to take on extra responsibilities in the workplace is a valuable way to enhance your skills. For example, you could volunteer to take a leadership position in an upcoming project to improve your skills in managing projects and people. Having more experience in specific areas of business acumen helps demonstrate your capabilities in a working environment.

Seeking a mentorship

Seeking coaching or a formal mentorship with an experienced professional is an effective way to build your skills. For instance, you could approach a higher-level professional in your company and request mentorship with regular meetings and guidance sessions. You could also seek a mentor outside your workplace to vary your skill set and gain knowledge and experience from an industry professional with a particular skill set.

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