Working Knowledge: Meaning on Resume or Job Posting

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The term “working knowledge” is one that comes up commonly on resumes or job postings.

Job candidates may list that they have a working knowledge of a particular technology. Or a job posting may say that a working knowledge of a particular subject matter is required.

Within this article, we’ll be unpacking what the term “working knowledge” means in a professional context (on a resume or job posting) and share some examples of how it’s used.

What Does Working Knowledge Mean on a Resume?

When listed on a resume, “working knowledge” means that the candidate has an intermediate level of knowledge and ability with the skill of interest.

Functionally, it means that a candidate will be able to complete most basic tasks in the area listed, but not necessarily understand in depth how something works.

A common example is someone saying that they have a working knowledge of the spreadsheet software, Microsoft Excel. Generally, that means that they are familiar with Excel, have used it before, have done basic stuff with it, but likely don’t know how to do advanced functions and equations. That level of skill would be considered “working knowledge.”

What Does Working Knowledge Mean on a Job Posting?

working knowledge job posting

If you come across the term “working knowledge” on a job posting, it generally means the same thing as if you list it on a resume. It simply means that the company is looking for someone that has basic to intermediate knowledge and ability in a particular area.

Going back to the Excel example, if a company lists “working knowledge of Microsoft Excel” as a requirement on a job posting, that means that you should a) expect to have to use Excel on a somewhat regular basis in the role and b) that the company will expect you to come in with a moderate level of competence with the tool.

Does Working Knowledge Mean Experience?

Working knowledge is similar to experience but implies a little bit of a higher skill level.

Having experience in a particular area doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be immediately able to come in and execute basic to intermediate tasks in that particular working area. It simply means that you have some experience in that field in your past.

Working knowledge means that, out of the gate, you’ll be able to come in and execute baseline level tasks in whatever area is expected, without any further training.

What is Having a Good Working Knowledge of Something?

working knowledge interview

A good rule of thumb when you’re thinking about whether or not you have a good working knowledge of something is whether or not you would feel comfortable completing some basic exercises in that area as a part of a job interview process.

It’s not uncommon to have to complete some basic tasks to prove your skills in a job interview process. If a company lists that “working knowledge” as a requirement in a particular area, and you don’t think you could prove that if you had to, you probably don’t have a good working knowledge.

And by the way, I’ve had candidates who have listed that they have expertise with a particular technology that have ghosted when they actually had to do a short exercise to prove it, so be honest and judicious about how you use the term.

What Can I Say Instead of Working Knowledge?

Here are some alternative phrases and terminology that you can use instead of working knowledge on a resume or job posting:

  • Basic-to-intermediate knowledge
  • Functional knowledge
  • Practical knowledge
  • Practical understanding
  • Operational knowledge
  • Working understanding

How Can I Put Working Knowledge on a Resume?

Working knowledge would generally be placed in the “skills” section of a resume. Most often, you would put the term “working knowledge” in parentheses after the relevant skill. For example, you would say “Microsoft Excel (working knowledge).”

For an in-depth dive on how to craft a skills section on a resume, check out this article from ResumeGenius or the below video from Cass Thompson:

Conclusion

The term “working knowledge” is one that you’ll commonly come across on resumes and job applications. Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand that it generally means a basic to intermediate skill level in a particular area and that you feel equipped to use on your path to getting a job offer that you’re excited about (rather than one that you don’t want).

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan serves as a career counselor on the side. He writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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