What Does Working Knowledge Mean on a Resume?

The term “working knowledge” is quite an ambiguous phrase that can have multiple meanings to different employers.

Does it refer to how well-versed someone is about their field of study? Or does it mean the ability to do work and perform tasks quickly with little supervision?

According to career experts, here’s what working knowledge means on a resume.

Gary Taylor

Gary Tailor

Computer Engineer | CEO, Bookyourdata

You get an idea of what something is but you can’t be totally sure of how it works

HR professionals often have to go through hundreds of resumes per day, and one term that they keep coming across is ‘working knowledge.’ The question is, what exactly does the term mean?

Intermediate knowledge

Working knowledge means that the candidate has comprehension of a specific domain that exceeds the beginner level knowledge but is not yet at the expert level.

From the word ‘working,’ it can be understood that having working knowledge entails that the knowledge can actually be put to use to achieve a certain outcome related to the subject of interest.

Hence, when you hear the term working knowledge, it means the knowledge you have gained that you can apply to a set of activities and use in order to meet the demands of relevant tasks that you encounter.

Bookish knowledge

Working knowledge can be taken as the opposite of ‘bookish knowledge.’ Bookish knowledge is the knowledge you gain through reading. You can get it by reading books, magazines, articles, and newspapers.

You get an idea of what something is, but you cannot be totally sure of how it works.

If we take an example from a marketing point of view, let’s say you read about how to build the perfect marketing strategy. You read that you need to run a SWOT analysis, figure out a value proposition, determine marketing objectives, analyze competitions, and so forth.

You can easily retain this information and claim you know about making a marketing strategy. But unless you actually go to the field and do all the legwork required to create the strategy, you won’t attain the working knowledge.

Example with regard to candidates’ resumes

When candidates write on their resumes ‘Have working knowledge of XX,’ it is meant to show the recruiters that they have enough know-how of the field/subject to be able to perform first-hand tasks.

As an example, let’s take a candidate who claims to have ‘working knowledge of Microsoft Excel‘ according to their resume. The recruiter asks them to take out their laptop, open Excel or Google Sheets, and demonstrate their working knowledge.

The candidate makes a simple table, fills in the cells (with information regarding any subject), gives different colors to the rows and columns, and presents it to the recruiter. Is the recruiter going to be impressed by that? The simple answer is no.

Creating a table is a very basic task that could be expected of even someone opening Excel for the very first time. The recruiter would have expected the candidate to be able to add formulas and do calculations such as:

  • ‘average’
  • ‘summation’
  • ‘count’
  • ‘if’

Being able to perform such functions would mean the candidate has the required working knowledge of Excel.

From the example above, it is clear that working knowledge of a subject requires candidates to be able to perform certain, non-basic tasks on the subject. Showing recruiters practical examples of their working knowledge is a great way for candidates to differentiate themselves from other candidates and increase their chances of landing a job.

Amanda Gonzalez

Amanda Gonzalez

HR Administration Manager, KnowledgeCity

Demonstrating “working knowledge” on a resume with eLearning

One of my recommendations is for candidates to showcase when they have “working knowledge” of a key area or skill related to the position. People should also consider online classes to refresh or expand their knowledge to reinforce claims of proficiency.

By taking relevant courses, candidates can catch the attention of recruiters and HR managers at top firms.

“Working knowledge” of a certain area or language means you understand it at an intermediate level

On a resume, noting that you have “working knowledge” of a certain area or language means you understand it at an intermediate level.

For example, suppose an employer gave you a task requiring your accounting knowledge or capability in a computer program. In that case, your working knowledge should allow you to complete the assignment. You might need some guidance at the outset or some revisions when the task or project is completed, but you handle most of the work and return it in good shape.

By utilizing eLearning, candidates not only highlight their working knowledge in a given area but also show the employer you’re motivated to develop your skillset to improve performance and help add value to the company’s bottom line.

Related: Udemy vs Coursera vs Skillshare vs LinkedIn Learning

How eLearning helps candidates stand out:

Online training and education serve both as an attention-getter and a conversation starter for candidates at all levels. The interviewer might wonder why you pursued additional education online, what you learned from the courses, how you plan to apply that knowledge or skill to their business, and your role specifically.

Completing online courses shows the employer you’re curious, proactive, and use knowledge to strengthen your capabilities and inform your decisions.

A candidate who develops new skills or enhances existing ones through online learning is better positioned to market those skills in relation to how they can benefit the company.

A broad set of online classes, from workplace safety to fraud prevention, also gives you what is known as “hybrid skills.” These are cross-occupational skills that companies value because it demonstrates that you can handle a multitude of tasks.

For example, if you’re applying for a marketing associate position, you might take data analysis and information management classes. You aren’t positioning yourself as a data scientist, but you are highlighting aptitude in applicable, complementary areas, along with the ability to add value from day one.

Employers want candidates with interest in, and an understanding of, certain timely topics.

This can range from the latest business trends and regulatory issues to new software programs and online identity protection. Adding courses in timely categories is a good start for candidates. It helps them compare favorably to applicants and can also inspire lifelong learning.

Inevitably, employees who continually build their knowledge base stand to outperform others, receive promotions, and take greater ownership of their career paths.

Dawn D. Boyer, Ph.D.

Dawn Boyer

Resume Writer | Career Consultant | Small Business & HR Consultant | CEO, D. Boyer Consulting

The person have been taught to use something but only performed one function and nothing else

What working knowledge mean:

  • The person may have been taught to use (something) but only went in to perform one function (e.g., software application), but nothing else related to (it).
  • The person used to work on (something) years ago but hasn’t touched it in years, so they are not familiar with newer versions of (it).

A few decades ago, I was working in a Government Contracting company, and we completed an audit based on documented and proven educational levels claimed by the current employees. In government contracting, the federal government is very serious about their contracts and hiring ‘qualified’ contract employees to work a contract.

Our HR audit came up with approximately 300 employees who had claimed an ‘equivalent experience to’ college degrees.

Back in the day – so to speak – that had been acceptable on the resume, but since the government was clamping down on proven and documented formal college educations noted on resumes submitted to the government contracts for not only contract proposals but also currently running contracts, the HR department had to go back and confirm every single degree for every single employee (approximately 3,500).

In the long run – those who didn’t actually have ‘sheepskin’ to submit had to submit a revised resume and pray that their ‘years of experience’ fulfilled the alternative to a minimum college degree required by the federal contract.

In the end, there were 50 employees who were required (by the federal contract) to have a formal college degree but could not prove it (“my house burned down, and the college no longer exists” type of excuses). Others were found to have outright lied on their resume to get hired.

Still, others claimed to have the college credits but never graduated (claiming 1-5 courses short to finish). So the company actually had to terminate about 45 employees who had lied on their resumes about their experience and/or formal education.

So when folks say, “well, my informal training and education are equivalent to a college degree,” they need to be ‘schooled’ on reality.

The same thing goes for working knowledge:

  • Is the job applicant just familiar with something?
    • (Like a CEO knows that there is a cash register at the front door of the store, but do they really know HOW to use a cash register?)
  • Is the job applicant in a position where they are learning about a process, product, system, application, and have watched the person using it close enough where they can step into the practitioner’s shoes and perform the job?
  • Do they just have enough knowledge to be fully aware of what is going on, but they can’t actually perform the task themselves?

Solomon Thimothy

Solomon Thimothy

CEO and Co-Founder, Clickx

It means knowledge and expertise acquired through observation and experience

Mentioning working knowledge means you have substantial experience in the workflow, tools, and other operative functions needed for a particular position. However, it doesn’t suggest that the knowledge and expertise are founded theoretically by the books, but it was acquired through observation and experience.

For example, an individual with a working knowledge of SEO may understand how an on-page SEO audit is done and evaluated. However, they may still need good exposure and some training about each subset to understand how to best optimize each element.

An individual with working knowledge is highly teachable since they already know how it works

An individual with working knowledge has an empirical understanding of what needs to be done but doesn’t understand the intricacies that govern it. This means that they are highly teachable since they already have an idea of how it works.

Being amenable to learning further is a good foundation for solidifying expertise in a field.

You can think of working knowledge as having the skill but not the basic knowledge. While it’s good to have the skill, having the right resources and training can help individuals gain more government over their abilities.

Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan

Senior Employment Advisor, VelvetJobs

Working knowledge means that the candidate has some or limited understanding of the skill in question

In short, the phrase “working knowledge” means that the candidate has some or limited understanding of the skill in question. This does not mean that they have the expertise or extensive experience but have an edge over others who aren’t even exposed to the concept/skill.

To put it in practice, having a working knowledge of something means that they will probably need some time, support, or resources to become fluent and some trial-and-error to become better at it.

So, for example, they might be able to replicate processes, reconstruct assets, follow instructions, and be aware of the technical jargon and terms. However, they won’t be able to start with high levels of efficiency or output in regards to the skill in question.

The term is used more commonly in the IT and digital industry to determine the variety of coding languages and frameworks developers have “working” knowledge of. Candidates also use it to indicate their digital skills and proficiency in languages, for example, “Working knowledge of MS Office.”

Devin Ahern

Devin Ahern

Hiring Manager/Recruiter, Tampa Pallet Racking

It means that a candidate is proficient or at an intermediate level in that subject

The term “working knowledge” is sometimes regarded as a ‘buzz-word’ but it actually has a useful meaning. Generally, I would consider a “working knowledge” to mean that a candidate is proficient or at an intermediate level in that subject.

This is opposed to “expert level” or “beginner level.” You can expect someone with a working knowledge of a task/subject to be able to complete it sufficiently with little help, but there may be a few errors/not fully developed.

I would recommend that candidates avoid using this phrase unless they are confident in their abilities at that task/skill. If you have a “working knowledge,” I wouldn’t expect you to need any outside training or in-depth explanations.

I’ve seen candidates try to buff up their “beginner level” skills by using “working knowledge” instead; this is dishonest and misleading.

Justin Wiegand, Ph.D.

Justin Wiegand

Faculty Member, Fowler College of Business, San Diego State University | Principal HR Scientist, WhoCo

Working knowledge is knowledge applied

When someone notes that they have a working knowledge of something on their resume, it should capture that they have more than knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Instead, they have a degree of skill or ability related to what they’ve noted.

Working knowledge is knowledge applied to tasks. The American Psychological Association specifies knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) as “attributes of an… applicant for a position.”

Working knowledge simply elevates knowledge to the applied realm of skills and abilities.

Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell

Former Recruiter | Director, StandOut CV

It means the applicant has some knowledge of the matter and is able to perform the tasks required

When a resume mentions that the applicant has working knowledge, it’s usually understood to mean that the applicant has some knowledge of the matter and is able to perform the tasks required.

They wouldn’t necessarily have expertise in this area.

For example:

The applicant knows how to complete the specified task but might not have a deep understanding of how it all works.

For example, someone has a working knowledge of using Microsoft excel but may not know how to fix complex formulas without supervision. You would expect someone to be able to perform basic tasks, especially in relation to the role, if they have ‘working knowledge.’

Still training?

A working knowledge also implies that the candidate isn’t fully qualified in the subject and might be part of the way through a training program. They have already grasped the basics, so they have limited but usable knowledge.

Resume tip: Instead of saying ‘working knowledge,’ it will be better to state the exact tasks you can perform for this skill, especially those that are specific to the role in question.

For example, being able to use a marketing tool to get data on website visitors, but you may not be able to perform a full audit using this tool.

Cindy Deuser

Cindy Deuser

HR Manager, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

Working knowledge in a resume means that you know how to use a certain program to get the work done

I’d say working knowledge in a resume simply mean that you know how to use a certain program to get the work done. It doesn’t have to mean you have in-depth knowledge about it, but you do understand how it operates.

You may not have studied properly, but with experience working with it, you are capable of utilizing it to have an output that is useful for the company.

A good example is knowing how to use accounting software. You may now be an accounting graduate, but with your work experience in using the software, you will gain enough understanding of how to operate it and enter the details as required.

You have the “working knowledge” on it as you are frequently using it.

Magda Klimkiewicz

Magda Klimkiewicz

HR Business Partner, Zety

It means they can make something work without having a profound understanding of why it works

When job candidates list working knowledge on a resume, it often means they can make something work without having a profound understanding of why it works or what to do if it breaks down.

For example, when a software engineer mentions having a working knowledge of a programming language, employers generally want to know if the candidate can actually sit down and write a relatively basic application in that language, even with a little trial-and-error approach.

So, while working knowledge implies you aren’t an expert, you should still have some experience with a given language or tool to feel comfortable listing it on your application.

Liz Raad

Liz Raad

Co-Founder, eBusiness Institute

Working knowledge alludes to an individual’s basic-level learning or experience

“Working knowledge” alludes to an individual’s basic-level learning or experience – that they are competent or possess enough knowledge to take a skillset and run with it if required.

The don’ts:

Now, with the advent of technology and educational tools, there are infinite resources and platforms for learning and accessing information. Some may think this gives virtually everyone some form of working knowledge that they can later build upon, but that isn’t the case.

Employers can differentiate between applicants who internet-cram on subjects and skills they have a bare minimum understanding of to applicants who have a quantifiable degree of knowledge that they can invest time and learning to upskill on the job as required.

It is best to avoid using the phrase ‘working knowledge’ for any technical skills individuals might possess that qualify less than a first-tier or basic level of proficiency.

The do’s:

That’s not to say one cannot use working knowledge as a phrase in your resume at all. Resumes can indeed use ‘working knowledge’ when coupled with any technical certification or quantifiable level of measure that indicates the extent of their knowledge.

For example: Using “Working knowledge of CSS editor – Introduction to CSS3 University of Michigan (Coursera, 2020)” backs the technical knowledge with proof of experience.

Phil Strazzulla

Phil Strazzulla

Founder & CEO, Select Software Reviews

Working knowledge is a term that’s often not recognized by applicant tracking systems

As a tech CEO, I’m often looking at resumes to try and evaluate how good a candidate is for a role. When it comes to the statement “working knowledge,” I often recognize that there’s a bit of vagueness in what different candidates actually mean.

However, the bigger problem with this term is that it’s often not recognized by applicant tracking systems, which are looking for keywords about certain proficiencies. If someone has a working knowledge of a system, it’s best to outline what that knowledge is so automated hiring systems can accurately profile their experience.

These days, most companies aren’t going through every single resume they receive when trying to fill a position. In fact, most hiring teams might not even see the resume until the day of the interview.

That’s because much of the process is now automated, with Applicant Tracking Systems reviewing resumes for lists of keywords established by hiring teams. Hiring candidates can use a tool like JobScan to see if their resumes properly reflect the keywords and proficiencies indicated in the job listing.

Ensuring that your resume is readable by these scanners is the first step to getting an interview.

So instead of saying “I have a working knowledge of Salesforce,” a candidate can say, “Experience following prospect life cycles in Salesforce.” This subtle increase in specificity may be what it takes for ATS to properly identify a worthwhile candidate.

Related: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Matt Erhard

Matt Erhard

Managing Partner, Summit Search Group

The candidate gained this knowledge on the job by using it rather than in an educational context

Typically, I take the phrase “working knowledge” to mean a candidate has a practical understanding of how to use that program, tool, or process in a workplace context, even if they don’t fully understand its inner workings.

I also typically take this to mean the person gained this knowledge on the job by using the process or tool rather than in an educational context.

When to include working knowledge on a resume:

This is most valuable when listing experience with industry-specific tools and programs—things that the average person wouldn’t be familiar with and where expert-level understanding of the system is rare or unnecessary.

For example, someone applying for a hiring manager position could list working knowledge of ATS programs, which would be a valuable skill. That said, it’s not going to add value to list working knowledge of things familiar to most of the general population.

You wouldn’t want to list working knowledge of social media platforms, for example, even if you’re applying for a social media marketing position. In this case, employers will look for expert knowledge, above and beyond what is found in the general population.

Daniela Sawyer

Daniela Sawyer

Founder & Business Development Strategist, FindPeopleFast

It means knowing how to make something work without a profound understanding of why it works

“Working knowledge” simply means that you have been given a task in which you could “take the ball and run with it,” creating a “substantially complete” job. You might require a little bit of supervision at the front end or some modification, rewriting, or feedback at the back end, but you could bear the primary responsibility and burden of the task.

“Working knowledge” indicates a low level of ability in an area in which you will be required to work with the tool, but not inevitably to be an expert or professional in that tool.

If you do not feel like you would be able to build a complete product with the tool, but you feel like you could reconstruct it with a bit of trial-and-error, from an example, you probably have a working knowledge of that tool.

What level of ability does the term “working knowledge” describe?

Generally, when we examine a candidate about “working knowledge” in, for example, a programming language, we want to know if they can sit down and write a functional program in that language.

You do not need to be a specialist, but you need to have done some substantial work with it or used it extensively in school if you are a recent graduate.

Harriet Chan

Harriet Chan

Co-founder, CocoFinder

Working knowledge is the ability and skills to make something without much expertise in the area

Being the co-founder and part of the recruiting team in our company, I’ve conducted many interviews. Going through each candidate’s resume, we generally ask them about “working knowledge” in specific areas, e.g., a programming language.

We aim to know whether they can write a functional program in that language.

Working knowledge is basically the ability and skills to make something without much expertise in the area. It reflects low-level competency in a subject. If a candidate includes a working knowledge of x in the resume, I expect they can handle tasks to do with x, producing a substantially complete project.

At first, they might be a bit slow, face challenges, ask questions, search for solutions, need supervision, etc.

But that basic knowledge on the subject gives them the basis to acquire more organically and bear the main challenge of the task. If you can work on x daily, even with little knowledge, you can include it in the resume and back it up with your experience.

If you feel like you cannot do any valuable work with x, then you don’t have “working knowledge” in x. Often, we view a candidate’s resume without working knowledge in x as a “potential trainee,” and we will have to give them training before they can handle tasks to do with x.

Ouriel Lemmel

Ouriel Lemmel

CEO and Founder, WinIt

Working knowledge indicates that an applicant has the ability to put their knowledge into practice

This translates into an intermediate level of knowledge. They may understand how to use excel but wouldn’t necessarily have the more advanced expertise to teach it to someone else.

Working knowledge gives the employer the idea that this person has used this program or done this task more than a handful of times in the past. Be sure to use the term “beginner knowledge” if you would not be able to use this knowledge without wider training.

Devin Schumacher

Devin Schumacher

Founder, SERP

The capacity to perform related tasks with little to no training needed

I believe that candidates who have a working knowledge of specific topics should have the capacity to perform related tasks with little to no training needed. Otherwise, they cannot claim to have a working knowledge of the subject.

The differences in semantics between working, advanced, and basic knowledge are apparent, yet many candidates still use them interchangeably.

I have hired dozens of candidates over the years, so I know that these types of applicants are common in any industry. As such, I tend to stray from resumes that solely declare working knowledge over specific topics.

If you want to impress recruiters and c-level executives who share the same mindset as I do, attach a solid portfolio to your resume.

Prove your expertise by showing definite proof detailing past learning events, reports, seminars, and projects. Doing so will already set you apart from thousands of other applicants.

Gerald Lombardo

Gerald Lombardo

Co-Founder, The Word Counter

Working knowledge indicates a basic competency with a certain skill or tool

It indicates that you haven’t mastered the skill, but you could be given a basic task using the skill and run with it. Using this term shows initial understanding, and it also alludes to employers that you’re willing to learn more and gain a mastery of the tool or skill.

Depending on the skill you’re describing, the term can actually be kind of vague. If you are truly an expert at something, don’t undercut yourself by listing that you have a working knowledge. And if you’re really a total beginner, don’t oversell yourself by using this term.

The term can also mean that you have experience implementing this particular skill in the workplace, as opposed to just having a theoretical understanding of how the skill is used.

My best advice is to be as specific as you can when describing your skillset so you’re not leaving your potential employer guessing.

Daniel Cooper

Daniel Cooper

Managing Director, Lolly Co

It can mean you came across the subject but it wasn’t necessarily critical to your actual responsibilities

Working knowledge on a resume means you have exposure to a certain technology, tool, or subject but couldn’t just jump into the item without some guidance.

For example, working knowledge of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) may mean you understand the term, have seen it implemented and can talk about its benefits, and can suggest cases in which it would be deployed.

What it doesn’t mean, however, is that you could actually do the RPA yourself or even build out a detailed plan for implementing RPA into a business function. For that, you’d need more than working knowledge—you’d need expertise or rather functional knowledge.

Working knowledge is more advanced than familiarity. If you were familiar with RPA, you might have heard it discussed in your workplace or read a few articles about it but haven’t actually seen it up close.

In short, working knowledge can mean you came across the subject in the course of your work, and it touched on your job duties, but it wasn’t necessarily critical to your actual responsibilities.

Eric Ang

Eric Ang

Founder, One Search Pro

Working knowledge means knowing enough about a tool or program to operate it

It’s a shallow end of competency that usually implies prior firsthand experience. You have a fair understanding of the tool, and you have worked with it personally, but you are not a full-fledged expert yet. Your knowledge of that tool is still growing.

Hypothetically, if you write that you have a working knowledge about a tool, you can exercise its basic functions without guidance. You might come to me for clarifications, but you wouldn’t need me to hold your hand.

Working knowledge on your resume

On your resume, your working knowledge of [blank] should come under the “skills” section. The term “working knowledge” can be used to preface your transferable skills.

For example, if you have a working knowledge of a point-of-sale system, you can likely be an alright cashier. You can complete customer transactions and print your end-of-day reports. However, you might not know how to fix the system when it malfunctions.

Anna Berkolec

Anna Berkolec

Recruiter, ResumeLab

It’s a term used by applicants to signal that the requested experience isn’t brand new to them

To me, as a recruiter, working knowledge indicates a level of familiarity with a process, program, or way of doing something. The candidate communicates that this is not their “first rodeo” and that they possess what it takes to get the task done.

Admittedly, the term can be a little vague and, depending on the candidate’s level of self-confidence, can insinuate a level of capability anywhere from beginner to intermediate. That is why it is essential to probe further and ascertain as to what extent they truly know this specific skill or capability.

Ultimately, working knowledge is a fair term used by applicants to signal that the requested experience or capability isn’t brand new to them. However, it is up to the hiring manager to determine if the depth of said knowledge is deep enough for the needs of the team and/or company.

Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson

Owner and HR Manager, Simple Homebuyers

It means knowing what the tool does without any deep understanding of it

Resumes are usually filled with different terms and phrases which are not very self-explanatory. One such term is working knowledge. Here is what it can mean in most cases:

When a candidate has mentioned a tool or software on their resume saying they have a working knowledge of it, they are referring to knowing what the tool does, without any deep understanding of it. Someone who has had a chance to interact with a tool, but it was not a primary part of their job, would refer to it as something they have a working knowledge of.

The purpose of sharing this on a resume is to share that they have some experience of using the tool, and if it is a requirement at your company, they won’t have to learn it from scratch.

Greg Gillman

Greg Gillman

Chief Revenue Officer, MuteSix

Skills or knowledge that you’ve learned on (or off) the job and can perform if hired

On a well-written, informative resume, you may find that the “required” sections do not paint a complete picture of you or the skills that you bring to the table. This poses a problem because most job-seekers want to ensure that their entire skillset is represented—and for a good reason.

That’s where “working knowledge” comes in.

This bonus section allows you to include skills or knowledge that you’ve learned on (or off) the job and can perform if hired. It’s very seldom that your past education or employment can speak to everything that you can contribute to a new role.

So, take advantage of this opportunity to shine!

Ihor Shcherbinin

Ihor Shcherbinin

Director of Recruitment, DistantJob

Working knowledge means that the candidate has practical knowledge in a specific field

For us recruiters, the gist of “working knowledge” means that the candidate has practical knowledge in a specific field.

In our case, being IT recruiters, working knowledge stands for the capacity of the candidate to have an understanding of a specific technology/ programming language and being able to write functional code in that language and carry the main responsibility of their tasks without training provided.

It doesn’t need to be an expert in the field, but they need to show previous practical experience.

Jeff Meeks

Jeff Meeks

VP of Sales and Marketing, EnergyFit

“Knowing the what, but not the why”

The simplest way to describe working knowledge on a resume is “knowing the what, but not the why.”

For instance, in the fitness industry, someone may know what results from a specific workout routine will yield but will not understand what is happening in the body to produce such results.

Depending on what position you are hiring for, working knowledge of a task or trade can be a very exciting perk for an employee. If it is something you would like them to learn, it will be easier to teach them, and you know that in a pinch you can trust the employee to deal with the task in the shallow end.

Chelsey Opare-Addo

Chelsey Opare-Addo

Chief Resume Writer, Not Your Mother’s Resume

It indicates the ability to navigate a technology well enough to perform reasonable job duties

Working knowledge indicates the ability to navigate a technology well enough to perform reasonable job duties. For example, if a Customer Service Representative has “working knowledge” of Excel, they can likely use Excel for data entry and tracking.

They know Excel well enough to navigate the software fairly easily, but they cannot use complex formulas and create pivot tables. Of course, the term “working knowledge” is completely subjective, as with all proficiency levels.

If a Financial Analyst lists working knowledge in Excel, they likely know some of the more complex features expected of their profession. Working knowledge is essentially somewhere between familiarity and advanced knowledge.

Dorota Lysienia

Dorota Lysienia

Community Manager, LiveCareer

Working knowledge means that you know how to perform basic tasks using a specific tool or program

For example, you can manage Google docs and spreadsheets and work on projects with your colleagues without major problems.

You usually don’t know all the advanced functions these tools offer, but you can easily get around. By stating that phrase in your resume, you show the recruiter that you can perform basic tasks or look for support online if the company hires you.

For me, working knowledge also equals “I am capable of learning more.”

In essence, a candidate with a good understanding of a specific platform we use will quickly acquire new skills if needed. However, working knowledge of some tools is not mandatory. It’s not that important if you used Zoom or Teams for team communication in your previous gig.

It’s more about general openness toward different approaches rather than specific experience in just one of them.

Caitlin Proctor

Caitlin Proctor

Certified Professional Resume Writer, ZipJob

Steer away from including any skills you’re not confident in on your resumes

Including your “working knowledge” on a resume can be helpful for certain people, such as people who are early in their careers or people who are trying to make a career change.

In both cases, there is a lack of practical knowledge, which can make the “working knowledge” qualifier a useful way to include some skills you are not actually skilled in on your resume.

However, I would advise people to steer away from including any skills they are not confident in on their resumes.

No one is going to get hired based on their working knowledge of Spanish, for instance, if another candidate is fluent in it and the job requires it. Practical experience will beat working knowledge every time.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What type of working knowledge should I include on my resume?

The type of working knowledge you should include on your resume depends on the job you are applying for and the specific skills the employer is looking for. 

However, some general examples of working knowledge that may be useful in a job search include:
– Technical skills related to your industry, e.g., programming languages or design software
– Communication skills, such as dealing with clients or public speaking
– Project management skills, such as planning, organizing, and teamwork
– Industry-specific knowledge, such as regulations or best practices

How does working knowledge differ from other types of knowledge?

Working knowledge differs from other types of knowledge, such as theoretical or academic knowledge, in that it is acquired through practical experience in a particular field or industry.

While theoretical knowledge may be based on concepts, research, or learning, work knowledge is based on actual experience with tasks, projects, and challenges.

Working knowledge is often highly valued by employers because it demonstrates that you have the practical skills and expertise needed to succeed in a particular job or field.

By showcasing your working knowledge on your resume and during an interview, you can stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of landing the job you want.

How do I determine which working knowledge to include on my resume?

– Study the job description carefully and identify the key skills and knowledge areas required.
– Make a list of your relevant working knowledge and experience that meet the job requirements.
– Prioritize your list by the importance of the skills listed in the job description.
– Include the most relevant and meaningful items on your resume, focusing on showcasing your proficiency.

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