Most hiring managers view applications online first, just to weed out the most unlikely candidates. With no chance at a face-to-face first meeting, your resume's got to stand out and get someone's attention. One of the key sections where you can shine here is your competency statement. Use it to match your job skills and experience with those your potential employer is looking for. Hey, you need a restaurant manager with experience training other management candidates? Here I am! Depending on the person looking at your resume, your competency statement can be the most important section in your application.

Evaluate the Job Description

Review the job description for the position you want. It should highlight the skills the employer is looking for. Sometimes employers will include in the job listing a specific list of traits and skills they are looking for; other times you might need to extrapolate this information. If the listing is somewhat vague, look at job descriptions for similar positions and also review the company's website to get an idea of the kind of people they want to hire. You'll be matching your competencies to these traits, so make sure you have a good idea of what the employer is looking for before you start working on matching competencies.

Brainstorm Your Skill Sets

Write a list of things you're good at and what you've accomplished in your professional, academic and personal life. Don't worry about formatting, matching the job description or even specific skills just yet. Instead, just put down the things you're most proud of. Remember to include anything that stands out from school, extracurricular activities, hobbies, community service or volunteer work.

Now, organize these talents and accomplishments by type. For example, if you were head of your college debate club, headed a major conference at work and gave a speech at a local high school about the dangers of drinking and driving, categorize these accomplishments under "public speaking."

Match Your Skills to the Job

Look at the list of desired qualities you've already identified, as well as the skill sets you brainstormed to see how to frame your skills to fit the job opening. You might be able to turn some surprising attributes into competencies for a specific position, but if your skill sets are drastically different from those necessary for the job, this might be a good time to consider other job listings. For example, if your skills involve leadership, being extroverted and public speaking, you might not be the best candidate for a position that requires taking direction, doing quiet research and listening to others.

Once you've matched your skills to the job listing, write down each of those skills in one sentence. For example, if you have developed and maintained budgets for several years, write: "I am capable of developing and maintaining budgets" as your heading. Try to cover as many of the important traits and necessary skills as you can from the description in the job listing.

Build on the Framework

Once you write down your skills in sentence form, provide examples of what you have previously done. If your competency is marketing, give examples of marketing campaigns that you have been involved in and explain what your role was. If you have received any awards or achievements related to that skill, be sure to include them. If a marketing campaign you worked on was named one of the top five of the year by a marketing magazine and increased the company's total yearly revenue tenfold, mention those facts.

Don't add too much information to each competency statement. Just include the best two or three examples from your previous experience to back up the skills you listed.

Competency Statement Example

All job postings list certain competencies required by a potential employer. When creating this section in your resume, it's not enough to say that you've got experience in each of these fields. You have to give specific examples of how you've excelled in the required skills. For example:

I was the training manager for an international restaurant corporation. My trainee group generally consisted of four people, as was standard in the company. In one session, trainers were scarce and I ended up with a class of seven in my group. With only one week's notice, it was quite a challenge to adjust to the extra hands-on training that was needed.

During the six-week training class, I developed a scheduling system that allowed for all trainees to get a better sense of our management culture, giving each of them a wider range of tasks while still teaching them all they needed to know. I adjusted the program twice during the period, resulting in a lean, efficient training method that I used in subsequent sessions. Of these seven trainees, four of them graduated in the top 25 in the country for that year.

Review Your Competency Statement

Remember to proofread what you have written before submitting. Your competency statement should be written in first person using action verbs, for example: "I developed new software applications as part of my previous job," not "the job required the development of software applications." Be sure to edit the statement for spelling, grammar and formatting errors. An otherwise perfect statement could easily stand in your way of getting the job if it contains errors.