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Build Your Resume as a Capability Profile

I have written in other posts about how easy it is for a person to spend years working and never really know what they are good at or what they have "mastered" with those multiple 10,000 hours.

Resume writing is actually an excellent way to reflect on professional experiences and capabilities developed over those years. Sadly, most often, resumes tend to focus on showing where we worked and what we did without much insight into what we know, what we are really good at, and thus what WE CAN DO and ACHIEVE.

In this post, I want to use the Career Optimiser framework to create a capability-focused resume. This post is based on a 12-slide document but I'll share each slide here as images.

First, let's talk about the capability profile of a role, any role. What does the ability to achieve results in a role say about the capabilities you possess?

Here we talk about the three capability areas in the Career Optimiser framework,

  1. Domain Expertise

  2. Mastery of Professional Activities

  3. Competency

So, what exactly are these three?

Domain Expertise

The organization can be viewed as domains of practice with each function representing a domain. Each domain is a professional practice area with the related professional body of knowledge and skills - subject matter area with related theories, facts, concepts, procedures and practices.

The slide image below presents a sample of these domains.

Domain knowledge requirements include both the body of knowledge associated with the area of practice (primary domain), as well as the problem space where you are offering your solutions (secondary domain).

The intersection is where the solutions of the primary (practice) domain meet the needs of the secondary (problem) domain.

The longer you spend working in any of these domain intersections, the more of a domain expert you should become!

Professional Activities

Regardless of what role you are in, there are only five activities that you could be performing to achieve any defined set of results. These five are described in detail in the slide image below:

While most roles will be involved in all or a few of these activities, there will always be one activity that is primary for that role, that is the activity directly related to the results expected of the role.

You can not achieve results with activities alone, the activities are always performed in a domain however you can master the techniques of the activities and apply that mastery in developing solutions in any practice domain to solve problems in any problem domain.

The longer you spend in a role with a particular activity, the more proficient you should become in that activity, making steady progress towards mastery like in sports!


Competencies are a little trickier because they are really about who you are as a person.

The three which the framework focuses on are

  1. Cognitive

  2. Emotional

  3. Social


For an example of how you might think of this, see “Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development”


For an example of how you might think about this, see “Daniel Goleman Introduces Emotional Intelligence”


For an example of how you might think about this, see this post on social intelligence

Competencies and Professional Activities

Competencies are hard to observe and thus hard to develop deliberately.

Competencies manifest in professional activities and can be observed in the way you perform the activities within the various domains.

Competencies here, represent your capacity to develop the capabilities to perform these activities and achieve results.

Competencies and Leadership Behaviours

Competencies tend to be expressed or described as behaviours, specifically leadership behaviours, where leadership extends from leading self to leading others, and ultimately to leading the business.

Most organizations have a set of defined leadership competencies or behavioural competencies described at each career level in the organizational structure or hierarchy of roles.

Below is an example of leadership behaviours based on transformational leadership. The table simply shows descriptions, it does not include definitions at each career level which depends on the number of levels in the organization.

Competencies are about life experiences

All life experiences offer an opportunity to develop competencies because it is about who you are and how you choose to show up in every situation you find yourself. To develop competencies, the first step is to be deliberate in working on them and to be mindful of all the moments that make up your life, starting with the memorable ones because they tend to be significant.

Capability Levels

There is no point talking about being better or more capable if we are not able to talk about what better looks like.

The capability levels look different for the three capability areas. The slide image below provides an overview of this,

So, with this, it is possible to reflect on current or past experiences and really think about how good we are in each of the capability areas.

The domain knowledge can often be mistaken as based on academic qualification but it is not. The knowledge referred to here is knowledge applied in practice, theory applied in making effective decisions and taking effective actions that produce desired results in the role.

It is possible for an employee to join the workforce in a function at an entry-level with no more than a high school diploma and after 15 years be demonstrating advanced to expert level knowledge of the domain. In the same way, an honours graduate could join the workforce at a junior level and 15 years later, still, be demonstrating basic to intermediate knowledge of the domain.

So it's not about academic qualifications but about acquired domain knowledge as a result of, and intentionally extracted from practical experience.

The slide image below is a grid that borrowed from the "Iowa State University Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching". I love it because it sort of combines Merrill's component display theory with Bloom's Taxonomy with the addition of metacognition. This combination and particular representation show how the levels of domain knowledge could look like as applied in practice.

So, when you think of the decisions and actions you're taking in a role, you can ask yourself what level of thinking about what type of domain knowledge are you required to do and do you have adequate knowledge of the domain to do it - both primary (practice) domain and secondary (problem) domain.

Simplified Overview of the Framework Applied Across Career Levels

Your Resume Builder

So, when thinking about your resume, you can think about it as a reflection of the capabilities you've developed from your experiences to date!

First, a summary of your experiences expressed using the framework,

Then a summary of capability level as a result of these experiences...

For more information about the career optimiser and how the related applications of the development optimiser, do get in touch.

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