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KSA (Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities) are characteristics that enable an

employee/worker to accomplish the activities that need to be performed in his/her


job. It is a measure of how well a candidate is suited for the job that he/she holds
presently.

The three components of the same are:

Knowledge What all and how well the candidate knows the necessary
information about the job
Skill It is the ability to perform a task without conscious monitoring
Abilities It is the attitude towards learning and perception about ability to
perform & deliver

The acronym KSA stands for Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities and is most often
referenced in hiring scenarios. The KSA framework is applied in the context of job
descriptions or recruiting requirements, and it is used to compare candidates in
making a final selection. Historically, U.S. Federal Government hiring practices
applied the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities model to recruiting activities although
this has been phased out in favor of resume

An additional application of the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities approach is to


assess the need for training and coaching in an existing workforce.

Understanding the Differences Between Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

One of the criticisms of using KSA approaches is the misinterpretation of the three
terms. Many individuals use them interchangeably yet they are distinctly different
dimensions of an individual's overall makeup.

Knowledge focuses on the actual understanding of particular concepts. It is


theoretical and not practical. An individual may have an understanding or textbook
knowledge of a topic or tool, but have no experience attempting to apply it or to
leverage it as part of his or her job activities.

You may have read a book on installing a new ceiling fan in your home, but
have no practical experience wiring and mounting a fan.
You take a series of courses on investing in financial futures in college; You
understood the theory and the tools of valuation. However, you have no
practical experience in actually investing in these financial instruments.

You might read an article on health and nutrition. However, this does not
make you healthy or able to dispense advice as a nutritionist.
You have read a book on how to manage a project. However, you have no
actual experience attempting to do this.

Skills reflect capabilities or proficiencies developed through training or actual


experience.

Skills reflect the practical application of the theoretical knowledge.

After reading a book on installing a new ceiling fan, you successfully apply
this knowledge to installing fans in each bedroom.
After taking courses on investing in financial futures, you apply this
knowledge by actually trading these instruments.
You read about nutrition and lose 10 pounds by applying this knowledge and
modifying your diet and exercise routines.
You understand and have applied the tools of project management to leading
an initiative.

Abilities are those innate capabilities that you bring to a particular task or
situation.Abilities are often confused with skills, yet there is a subtle but important
difference.

You can help form groups of individuals into high-performance teams in


pursuit of completing projects.
You have a read a book on how to paint an automobile, and you have
attempted to apply this knowledge and develop your skills as an auto body
painter, however, the finished product is of poor quality. Contrast this with
the individual who can successfully apply the knowledge and skill of
painting the car with an innate ability to apply just the right amount of paint
at the right time to prevent runs or other blemishes.

As a negotiator, you can apply your knowledge and probing skills to help
two parties reach a common understanding and agreement on the way
forward. While anyone can learn approaches to negotiation and attempt to
leverage them, the ability of the negotiator to help two parties move from
disagreement to agreement transcends the theoretical knowledge and simple
skills application.

Strengthening Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

The areas of knowledge and skills are best developed through training activities
that incorporate both theoretical learning (textbook) plus hands on application of
the key concepts and tools. An individual striving to become a project
manager must understand the scope, work breakdown structure, critical path and
other important tools, and also have experience creating and applying the tools.

Strengthening natural abilities is primarily a coaching challenge, where


observation, feedback, and improvement or development planning are all applied
to particular behaviors.

Challenges with the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) Approach:

The general criticisms of using a KSA framework for job applications or candidate
evaluation tool include:

Long, complex and sometimes redundant job descriptions.


Complex application processes that frustrate candidates.
Confusion over the differences between the terms, especially skills and
abilities.

What are KSAs?

KSAs are knowledge, skills, and abilities that a person must possess in order to
perform the duties of his or her position. KSAs are listed on each positions job
description and serve as a guide for applicants, employees, and departments to
evaluate and assess a persons likelihood for success in a job.

Knowledge the subjects, topics, and items of information that an employee


should know at the time he or she is hired or moved into the job. Knowledge
represents bodies of information that are applied directly to the performance of
work functions.
Skills technical or manual proficiencies which are usually learned or acquired
through training. Skills should be measurable and observable.

Abilities the present demonstrable capacity to apply several knowledge and skills
simultaneously in order to complete a task or perform an observable behavior.
Abilities may also relate to personal and social attributes which tend to be innate or
acquired without formal instructions. Abilities are enduring talents that can help a
person do a job.

Examples:

Clerical:

Knowledge of office procedures and of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and


arithmetic.
Knowledge of records administration and maintenance techniques and
procedures.
Knowledge of inventory control principles and methods.
Skill in data entry with minimal errors.
Ability to accurately prepare and maintain records, files, and reports.
Ability to maintain records of materials, supplies, time, and work performed.

Communications:

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including


the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Skill in editing documents for correct grammar.
Skill in giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to
understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not
interrupting at inappropriate times.
Skill in communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of
the audience.
Skill in talking to others to convey information effectively.
Ability to communicate effectively in both oral and written form.
Ability to handle difficult and stressful situations with professional
composure.
Ability to maintain effective interpersonal relationships.
Ability to understand and follow instructions.

Critical thinking & Problem-solving:

Skill in collecting and analyzing complex data.


Skill in analyzing and organizing technical data.
Skill in using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of
alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Ability to process information logically.
Ability to recognize, analyze, and solve a variety of problems.
Ability to exercise sound judgment in making critical decisions.

Financial/Accounting & Budget:

Knowledge of generally accepted accounting procedures and principles.


Knowledge of budget control methods, policies, and procedures.
Ability to prepare financial and accounting records.
Ability to analyze, consolidate, and interpret accounting data.
Ability to compile, organize, interpret, and communicate accounting data
and results concisely.
Ability to manage a budget and work within the constraints of that budget.

Managerial or Supervisory:

Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic


planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership
technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Skill in monitoring/assessing the performance of self, other individuals, or
organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Ability to plan, implement, and evaluate programs.
Ability to direct and organize program activities.
Ability to establish goals and objectives.
Ability to establish program goals and objectives that support the strategic
plan.
Ability to effectively plan and delegate the work of others.
Ability to plan, assign, and/or supervise the work of others.
Ability to train others.

General:

Skill in managing ones own time and the time of others.


Skill in completing assignments accurately and with attention to detail.
Ability to work under pressure and meet close deadlines.
Ability to analyze, organize and prioritize work while meeting multiple
deadlines.
Ability to analyze and prepare documents, reports, and correspondence.
Ability to process and handle confidential information with discretion.
Ability to review work for accuracy.
Ability to work evenings, nights, and weekends as necessary.

Communications

Communications skills are absolutely core, basic business skills in all forms of
employment. This means verbal, written and comprehension skills. Skills
knowledge and abilities may include your ability to provide information
effectively, make presentations, or even do sales work, communicating with
clients.

Analytical skills

Analytical skills may relate to your ability to analyze data, information, business,
or work-related situations. The type of analysis required will be defined by the type
of work. Its advisable to check specific requirements in the list of knowledge
skills and abilities provided on the job ad and in the position description, when
addressing these requirements in your application.
Technology skills

This range of skills can be quite extensive. There are actually two basic types of
technological skills required General skills, like daily computer usage, common
types of software, et cetera, and specific, job-related technical skills like systems,
content management, client relations management, and other, much more
specialized technological skills. Its advisable to carefully check any list of
knowledge, skills, and abilities regarding technology.

Managing priorities/deadlines

This is a very common requirement of the modern workplace. Your ability to


maintain schedules, and meet deadlines is critical, particularly in a multitasking
workplace environment in which employees are often required to manage multiple
roles with different priorities and timeframes.

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are so important that questions about solving a problem at


work are universal. This skill set is critical in real world workplace environments.
Problems happen; employers want people who know how to solve the problems.
Adaptability

This expression refers to your ability to manage change, deal with situations as
they arise, and work independently or as part of a team. This is a particularly broad
skills base, increasingly more required by employers.

Planning and organizing skills

Planning and organizing are the core skills of effective employees and highly
valued. In most interviews, employers will ask job candidates for examples of how
they planned and organized a specific task, for example. Positions requiring these
skills may also include a list of knowledge, skills, and abilities of their own,
depending on the role of the position.

Teamwork

Another very important and common requirement, teamwork skills may include
your ability to work in a team, your knowledge of teambuilding, and your skills in
participating productively imitating. Teamwork requirements will vary depending
on the nature of the job, the type work involved, and the organizational role of the
position.
Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills mean literally your ability to work with others. This is a
particularly important skill set, and a standard requirement in nearly all jobs.
Interpersonal skills may also relate to client relationships and interactions at
various levels in a very diverse range of jobs, like customer service, account
management, and client relations management.

Motivation

Motivation is an important delineator for many employers. A motivated employee


is by definition a better worker. Motivation also relates to commitment to the job;
for example, a person who wants a job for career progression is highly motivated.

Professionalism

Professionalism is both a practical reference to knowledge skills and abilities, and


a reference to professional standards. The professional is by definition an exponent
of high levels of professional skills, ethics, and behavior. A job which requires a
high level of professionalism will by definition be a demanding role.

Multicultural sensitivity

This is an absolute must, required by law, and also very much part of the functional
realities of modern workplace. Multicultural sensitivity involves a range of skills
and knowledge, including a practical understanding of workplace standards.
Leadership skills

Leadership skills are highly valued in the workplace. Employers look for these
skills to find potential employees who have initiative and are able to take charge of
demanding situations. Leadership skills are often the critical difference between
equally qualified job candidates, too.