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Knowledge, skills and competencies explained

Knowledge, skills and competencies explained

Part 1. What makes you a good candidate? What are you good at? Does knowledge alone make you employable?

Who cares? You should care!

Understanding your own experience and capabilities through the lens of 'knowledge, skills and competencies' helps you to understand exactly who you are and what you can do, both for yourself and for your employer.

This knowledge is vital to be able to promote yourself effectively to employers. It can also assist you to:

  • Write a better resume
  • Assess job offers, before you accept them
  • Structure job applications that call for you to demonstrate how you fit the skill, knowledge and competency requirements of the job
  • Prepare for situational interviews, in which you are asked to 'describe a time when...' or 'provide an example of...'
  • Understand why employers don't want to interview you, or why your interviews are unsuccessful
  • Evaluate potential careers by matching your knowledge, skills and competencies to fields of interest
  • and many other situations!

What is knowledge?

Knowledge is 'what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information'. Knowledge can be obtained in many ways such as reading books, formal study and acquisition by osmosis.

Knowledge does not equal ability, although it is an important part.

We all know somebody like George, the Formula 1 motor racing enthusiast who knows all the statistics, the theory, the driver histories, the pitlane conventions, what the different coloured flags mean and so on. Could George actually perform any job in the Formula 1 paddock? George would probably need hands-on training and time to improve his actual skills and competencies before he could add any value.

Don't be like John

Don't confuse knowledge with competence.

John is a computer programmer with 7 years experience and a vast knowledge of IT-related matters. John desires a position as a website designer and reasons that his superior knowledge of computers is ample qualification for employment in this capacity.

John has never built a website, does not understand the psychology of user behaviour, and is not skilled at dealing with people to determine their needs. John spends 3 months of his time searching for and applying for web designer positions, a poor use of his time because web design is a competitive field and the market is currently flooded with skilled, experienced web designers searching for similar roles.

John would be better served investigating how he can obtain more of the skills and competencies needed to obtain an entry level position as a web designer.

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