When seeking a job in management or leadership, it's vital to know how to highlight your business acumen in your resume

If your career advancement goals are targeted toward higher-level positions in your industry, you'll likely need to develop some level of business acumen - otherwise known as business savviness or business sense. Moreover, you will need to be able to highlight that talent for business in your resume if you want to land the interviews you need to secure that great job. So, is there a way to showcase that business sense without simply saying that you have business acumen? Of course there is!

In this post, we'll explain the concept of business acumen and why employers value it in their managers and executives. We'll also examine some examples of different types of business sense skills and provide some helpful tips that you can use to highlight those abilities in your resume.

What is the meaning of business acumen?

Business acumen is not a single skill like communication or computer proficiency. Instead, it's a comprehensive portfolio of hard and soft skills, knowledge, and insights that you use to add value to any organization that employs you. Think of it as an umbrella term that encompasses a range of technical, soft, and interpersonal skills, as well as knowledge and insights into various aspects of business planning, finance, operations, and strategy.

For example, you might have keenly developed financial analysis skills that enable you to accurately forecast how company decisions may impact things like cash flow, competitive advantage, and overall profitability. Or you might have technical skills that enable you to identify the best ways for your company to leverage emerging technologies and keep your company on the cutting edge of technological innovation.

Put simply, business acumen is a set of skills that represent your overall business literacy and your ability to leverage your skill set to benefit your employer. When you have well-developed business savviness, your perspective and insights will tend to go beyond your job position or even your specific department. Your perspective will encompass the whole of your business organization, its mission, and values.

Most experts agree that business acumen is not something that you are born with; it's a learned talent cultivated over time. Fortunately, the fact that you have to develop these skills through experience can work to your benefit, since you should have no shortage of achievements to cite when you begin to include examples of your business acumen within the body of your resume.

Why is business acumen important to employers?

As you might expect, employers are not focused on job candidates' business acumen for most low-level positions, mainly because that level of business sense is not necessary in every job role. However, that acumen can be absolutely essential for many management and executive positions. When employers are filling those jobs, they need to make sure that they're hiring people who have the skills needed to understand the business, industry, and broader markets.

Top companies understand the value of hiring talented individuals with the right business acumen skills. They know that these types of employees can make an immediate impact on their organizations in any number of key areas. That level of business savviness drives value throughout any organization, from day-to-day decision-making to long-term efforts to achieve the company's mission.

Examples of skills that demonstrate business acumen

Before you can effectively convey your business acumen to potential employers, you first need to be able to identify the specific skills that you possess that best illustrate your business sense. We've compiled a list of business skills that can demonstrate that acumen in your resume or during an interview. For organizational purposes, we've separated these skills into four main areas of concern: planning, finance, operations, and strategy.

Planning acumen skills

Acumen for planning is demonstrated by skills related to your ability to think about future actions and prepare step-by-step courses of action that can help you to achieve your company's objectives. It's a future-oriented skill set that requires foresight, analysis, goal-setting, and sound judgment about which path to pursue. Oftentimes, planning will also entail the creation of alternative options, to ensure that you have the flexibility needed to meet unforeseen challenges.

Some examples of skills that can demonstrate your planning acumen include:

  • The ability to analyze data and identify opportunities

  • Creating objectives that align with the company's goals

  • Establishing plan parameters

  • Creating alternative plans

  • Evaluating potential outcomes

  • Resolute decision-making

  • Managing implementation and results-tracking

  • Modifying the plan as needed to ensure success

Financial acumen skills

Financial skills that can showcase your business acumen include all those abilities related to your understanding of a company's monetary transactions and economic life. These are key skills for anyone in a leadership position, since they go right to the heart of how the company makes its money, adjusts to challenges, and achieves success in its specific market.

Some of the most important financial acumen skills you'll need to highlight on your resume include things like:

  • Profit and loss management

  • Understanding of performance metrics

  • Expertise with financial reporting tools

  • Resource management

  • Cash flow forecasting and management

  • Budget analysis, creation, and implementation

  • Asset management

  • Pricing strategy development

  • Tax strategy management

Operations acumen skills

Operational acumen relates to all those skills that help to demonstrate your overall operations intelligence. While the term “operational excellence” has been bandied about with wild abandon in recent years, it's a concept that's often misunderstood. True excellence in operations is demonstrated by those who have the talent to analyze any business situation, identify problems that need to be fixed, and create and implement strategies that improve the company's value proposition and profitability.

Some important operations acumen skills that you can highlight in your resume include:

  • Human capital management

  • Ability to identify technology trends and leverage them to drive innovation

  • Problem-solving abilities

  • Project management

  • Risk and opportunity assessment

  • Understanding of marketing dynamics

  • Communication and team-building abilities

  • Optimization of sales funnels

Strategic acumen skills

Business acumen skills also include those related to strategic thinking and implementation. Planning skills are important for ensuring that a company is properly prepared for both expected and unexpected challenges and help to inform operational and financial decisions. Strategic acumen enables you to devise and implement the programs needed to make those plans a reality. These skills enable companies to expand and grow, using any number of strategic methods.

Strategic acumen skills may include things like:

  • Developing action roadmaps 

  • Analyzing risk and opportunity

  • Estimating execution costs and potential return on investment

  • Brainstorming to find solutions to likely obstacles

  • Creating metrics to track program progress

  • Flexibility to refine or replace strategies that fail to achieve goals

Other important skills that can highlight your business acumen

As you might imagine, business acumen skills can include a whole host of other talents and abilities as well. For example, interpersonal skills like communication and empathy are vital for successful leadership. So too are skills like organization, trustworthiness, effective time management, and conflict resolution. Active listening, integrity, and self-motivation can be included in that list too. The bottom line is that you probably possess a wide range of abilities that you can use in your resume to showcase your business acumen.

How to highlight your business acumen in your resume

As we noted earlier, you don't want to simply declare that you have a great deal of business acumen when you're creating your resume. Instead, you want to prove that you have that savviness by highlighting key skills and achievements that demonstrate your business sense. You can do this by including some of these abilities and accomplishments in the summary, work experience, and skills sections of your resume.

The goal is to create a broad narrative that tells your story in a way that emphasizes your tremendous business acumen and potential value as an employee. Of course, the tricky part is determining which of those skills will make the best impression on any given hiring manager. Here are a few tips to help you select the best options before you work them into your resume:

  • Begin by researching the company to identify its business model, values, and structure. Who are its competitors? What markets does it serve? Knowing these things can help you to figure out how your business acumen skills can benefit the firm.

  • If space is limited and you have to choose between generic skills like communication and more specific business acumen skills that relate to operations, financial, planning, or strategic matters, choose the latter.

  • If you are including any of these skills, make sure that you have maintained them over time. Keeping up with current affairs in your industry can be a great way to keep that business sense up to date.

Including business acumen skills in your resume summary

If you're familiar with the resume summary section, then you already know that space is at a premium in that introductory paragraph. Still, that doesn't mean that you should pass up the opportunity to begin your resume with a clear statement that demonstrates your business acumen to the reader. One way to do this is to use a few powerful skill keywords when describing yourself, with a brief nod to how those talents translated into real achievements throughout your career. For example:

  • Visionary leader with keen insight into how the fusion of human capital and emerging technology can speed innovation, expand customer acquisition, and fuel increased profits

Adding business acumen skills to your work experience section

You should also include specific references to some of your business acumen skills in your work experience section. As you do so, however, remember to cite those skills within the context of actual achievements and use quantifiable results that demonstrate how your previous employer benefitted from your talents. Try to include two or three such examples, if possible. Below are some ideas that may give you some inspiration as you create your own descriptions:

  • Led a strategy team that redesigned IT processes, resulting in a 32% reduction in costs, a 40% drop in tech problem resolution times, and a 26% improvement in reported customer satisfaction

  • Identified digital marketing strategy flaw and provided resolution that increased customer engagement by 61%, doubled reported brand awareness, and boosted sales by $1.2 million in the first two quarters of implementation

  • Directed a ten-person financial team that revamped budgeting and outlay processes, reversed negative cash flow trend, and enabled 30% of the company's budget to be redirected toward growth and expansion efforts

List business acumen abilities within your skills section

Since your business acumen is also demonstrated through your skills, it can be helpful to include some of the most relevant abilities in your skills section. Again, you will want to focus on the most important skills for the position you are seeking and make sure that they are prominently listed within that section. Simply include a bullet point listing for each skill that you want to highlight. You can pick and choose from the relevant skills that we've included throughout this post and add any other technical or soft skills that you want to highlight to round out the section.

Some tips to help you improve your business savviness

Finally, we want to include a few helpful suggestions that you can use to enhance your business acumen:

  • Read industry journals and other sources of news to learn more about your industry

  • Find a mentor who can help to cultivate that savviness

  • Attend lectures and other events related to your industry or business in general

  • Consider pursuing professional training to enhance your skills

  • Work to learn as much about your company as you can; ask to participate in new projects, cross-train in other departments, and so on.

Aim high with a resume focused on business acumen

Today's companies need managers and leaders with superior business acumen, so it's important to highlight those types of skills and achievements in your resume. You're now in a position to showcase your own acumen and get your resume the attention it needs to land a great job.

Does your resume still seem to lack that compelling narrative it needs to get your foot in the door? Get a free resume review from our experts today!

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