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Knowledge, skills and competencies explained - part 2

Knowledge, skills and competencies explained - part 2

Part 2. Knowledge and skills are important for developing job competence. Employers pay for competence!

Return to Knowledge, skills and competencies part 1

What are skills?

A skill is a developed capacity that facilitates either further learning or the performance of activities. Skills are developed and furthered through practice.

Skills can be classified as technical skills and transferrable skills.

Technical skills

Also known as job-related skills, technical skills relate to a particular job or job area. In the field of computer programming, technical skills include 'UNIX operating system repair', 'C+ computer programming language', 'Oracle database management' and so on.

Transferrable skills

These skills apply to a broad range of jobs. Some examples are persuasion, negotiation, problem solving and time management.

What are Competencies?

Competencies are employee behaviours that lead to good or bad job performance. They often combine knowledge, skill and behaviour together in some activity that is required within a particular job.

For example

  • The ability to use C+ programming skills to identify and fix problems arising in bookkeeping software'

To be a competent employee within this particular job, you would need to combine:

  • Knowledge of computer programming and the C+ language
  • Knowledge of bookkeeping principles
  • Skills in computer operation, software design and other IT-related areas
  • The ability to identify a problem and then determine and apply a solution

Being competent at a job means you could walk in on day one and do the work, without training.

Employers hire competence

Candidates who bring directly applicable experience are generally preferred because they are already competent and therefore productive from day 1.

Experienced candidates also pose a far lower risk of leaving the role for reasons like job mismatch, poor engagement or lack of commitment to their duties, simply because they know and understand the requirements, stresses and reality of the role.

Candidates who bring only knowledge or skill to a role may in time become competent with an investment of time and money by their employer. If you are planning a career change, keep these points in mind and focus on how you will differentiate yourself from other more experienced candidates, during the resume pre-screening and interview processes.

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