Skills vs. Competencies (With Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Employers may inquire about your skills and competencies when you apply for jobs. These two aspects of your professional profile serve distinct functions. Clearly understanding the distinctions between them can assist you in highlighting both your skills and competencies on your resume and accurately answering questions about them in a job interview. In this article, we discuss the difference between skills vs. competencies and provide examples of both along with their definitions.

Related: What Are Technical Skills?

What are skills vs. competencies?

Although often used interchangeably, there are distinctions between skills vs. competencies. Skills essentially entail your talents to accomplish and succeed at tasks in a professional context. You can acquire, cultivate and hone skills through experience, formal education and practice. Hard skills or technical skills are those that yield quantifiable outcomes and are employed in specific tasks, whereas non-technical skills, transferable skills or soft skills are those that may apply to many professional contexts and don't require specific training or schooling to obtain. Some examples of skills include interpersonal skills, writing skills, interpersonal communication, presentation and teamwork.

Core competencies are skill sets consisting of behaviours, traits, talents and knowledge that individuals use to obtain results in a professional situation. They are innate characteristics of your personality that you've acquired from your professional experience. Core competencies assist you in achieving workplace success by enhancing interactions with coworkers and assisting you in working successfully and reaching career milestones. Employers may utilise your key talents as a barometer in hiring choices, promotions and other professional growth opportunities. Some examples of core competencies are analytical thinking abilities, strategic planning skills, decision-making abilities and negotiation skills.

Related: Hard Skills Vs. Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

Examples of skills

You may consider the following examples of skills to hone and highlight to your prospective and existing employers:

1. Active listening skills

Active listening entails the capacity to focus totally on a speaker, absorb their message, understand the information and answer wisely. Active listeners utilise both verbal and nonverbal cues to demonstrate and maintain their focus on the speaker. Active listening abilities may demonstrate to your coworkers that you're involved and interested in the project or task at hand. To hone your active listening skills, you may practise note-taking, punctuality and ask questions if needed.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

2. Communication skills

Virtually every job requires communication skills. Communication skills are essentially the talents you employ to give and receive various types of information. Some examples include sharing thoughts, sentiments or information about what is going on around you. Listening, observing, speaking and empathising are all communication abilities. Strong communication skills are essential in every business and at every career level.

3. Computer skills

Computer skills entail the capacity to study and use different types of technology. Hardware abilities enable you to physically control a computer and can be as simple as understanding how to power on and power off devices. Software skills enable you to use computer programs and applications more effectively. Employers may consider some software abilities, such as spreadsheet skills or knowledge of a specific coding language, to be one of the requirements for employment. Other basic computer skills entail email management, systems and database administration, proficiency in coding languages and word and spreadsheet processing.

4. Leadership skills

Leadership abilities are those that you utilise to organise other people to achieve a common objective. They include the ability to educate and guide others, adaptability and team building. Leadership abilities are necessary to persuade people to execute a sequence of tasks, frequently according to a timetable. Leadership skills are especially crucial when you're in a managerial role or heading a project.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

5. Customer service abilities

Customer service abilities are characteristics and activities that assist you in meeting the demands of your customers and providing a great experience. Customer service abilities, in general, focus significantly on problem-solving and communication. Customer service is sometimes seen as a "soft talent," which includes characteristics such as active listening, reliability, interpersonal skills and empathy.

6. Organisational skills

Employee productivity, goal achievement and time management are all dependent on organisational abilities. These skills are highly useful in any professional job and are in great demand among companies. Planning, attention to detail, critical thinking and dispute resolution make up key organisational abilities.

7. Problem-solving abilities

Problem-solving abilities relate to the capacity to manage difficult problems at work in a constructive and productive manner. Although it's frequently necessary for practically all vocations, problem-solving abilities are especially crucial for individuals who work in a large company or as part of a team. Communication, decision-making and research abilities are common problem-solving talents to highlight to prospective and existing employers.

Examples of core competencies

Presenting yourself as a person with desirable character attributes might be just as striking as hands-on professional abilities you've acquired along the road. Outlined below are some key competences, along with their definitions:

1. Accountability

Also known as trustworthiness or dependability, accountability entails following through on tasks, finishing all needed aspects of a project and acting with honesty and integrity. You may showcase accountability by working successfully without substantial supervision or monitoring, demonstrating to a management that they can rely on you to finish your task independently. Personal accountability demonstrates your dedication to a set of beliefs.

2. Ambition

You may show ambition in both your short-term and long-term career objectives. If you're looking for a new job, be mindful to carefully construct the objective on your resume and cover letter to match your current goals. Define a long-term strategy for your professional career in your current position, such as a sequence of promotions you want to attain and the short-term measures to get there. As you establish your reputation, consider joining a professional group, volunteering for initiatives, obtaining certifications in your industry or enrolling in continuing education seminars for personal development.

3. Conflict resolution

The capacity to handle disputes quietly and effectively is a crucial part of excellent communication. Throughout your career journey, you're likely to come into contact with people whose working habits and perspectives on how to manage work differ from yours. Employers may want to know how you handle disputes with others, possibly with a particular example of when techniques worked effectively for you in the past, in industries where work is typically collaborative. You might try some of these tactics the next time a problem arises:

  • Don't discuss the problem until you're calm.

  • Have a private discussion with the person or in the presence of a mediator, such as a human resources professional.

  • Listen carefully and attempt to let the other person explain themselves before offering your own reasoning.

  • Use non-accusatory wording.

  • Be open to forgiving and accepting of the many approaches that others take to their job.

4. Delegation

Many job initiatives need the participation of more than a single team member. Delegation abilities enable you to select other coworkers to assist you so that your workload is manageable and the project is completed effectively. This is an extremely vital talent to demonstrate if you want to advance to a position where you will manage people. Delegation shows that you have faith in people and respect their contributions to the team. It can also foster friendship and a collaborative spirit.

5. Decisiveness

While there are times when a return follow-up is necessary, the ability to make rapid choices is a crucial skill to keep projects going and increase productivity. Wherever you can make a decision or give a solution during the debate rather than later, you demonstrate your decisiveness and desire to respect timelines and others' time. You might attempt some of the following exercises to hone this skill:

  • Accept that you will not know every facet or conclusion of a project and that pushing forward is sometimes more vital.

  • Follow your knowledge, intuition and experience.

  • Recognise the benefit of having numerous good and viable options and feel that any of them may result in a beneficial conclusion.

  • Participate in activities that require you to learn to respond fast, such as video games or tennis.

6. Flexibility

Being flexible and adaptive essentially means you're able and willing to shift your work or priorities when the goals and scope of a project evolves. Most projects begin with extensive pre-planning during which the organisation clearly outlines the goal and planned tasks. Your capacity to adapt as things change demonstrates your dedication to the project's end and deliverables and your ingenuity when new solutions are necessary.

7. Stress management

Keeping a healthy work-life balance is critical for reducing stress while being productive. An employer may want to learn about your coping skills in high-pressure situations such as time-sensitive work and strict deadlines. The better you deal with stress, the more likely you are to be focused and organised at work. Listed below are some strategies you may consider for dealing with stress at work:

  • Find some relaxation strategies you can use at work, such as meditating, taking a brief stroll outside or practising breathing techniques.

  • Prior to escalation, resolve problems via conversation and conflict resolution approaches.

  • Speak with a supervisor or manager if you've got ongoing issues about members of your team or your tasks.

  • Keep a journal or a list of your stressors and look for trends where you might make modifications.

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