Knowledge, Skills and Abilities - What You're Good At


Being great at what you do can be very satisfying. Yet many people find themselves working in a career where their natural talents go to waste. For one reason or another, there's a mismatch between their Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA's) and their job duties.

KSA's represent the capabilities that you bring to a career. They can be defined simply as what you know, what you're capable of doing, and what comes naturally to you. In job descriptions, you've seen them as qualifications or requirements. Years of experience, competencies, degrees and credentials are various ways that capture the KSA's for a specific position.

Here are two examples that list some of the KSA's needed for particular jobs. Your own KSA's differ from what appears below.

Richard Styner

Dental Assistant KSA's

  • Knowledge of dental terminology, anatomy, and charting
  • Completion of an accredited dental assistant program
  • Experience with radiology procedures
  • Strong customer service and interpersonal skills

Marketing Manager KSA's

  • 4-year degree in Marketing, Business Administration or Communications
  • Demonstrated skill in management and supervisory functions
  • Experience developing contracts, proposals and customer presentations
  • Ability to anticipate issues, proactively prevent or resolve problems
  • Proficient in MS Office

Richard Styner Richard Styner

To identify your own unique combination of KSA's think broadly about your capabilities. KSA's aren't just what you learn in school. They also include practical aspects like being able to work with people, having good judgment or working with your hands.

In addition to your obvious talents you may also have hidden talents. Find out what your managers, peers, friends and family appreciate most about you. Don't overlook things that come easily to you as these often point to strengths you can leverage.

If you are looking ahead at potential jobs, it's helpful to talk to people working in the field to find out what's most important. With this information in hand, compare your KSA's to the job requirements. This will allow you to identify which KSA's you already have and which ones you need to develop.