The terms “competencies” and “skills” are often used interchangeably. But they have some big differences, explained below. Along with examples of core competencies to get you going in the exercise to determine your personal core competencies.
What is a skill?
Definitions of “skill” differ in various studies, but there are a few commonalities:
- Ability or expertise that is developed through experience or training.
- The ability, out of practice, to do something “well.”
- An ability acquired through systematic and repetitively carrying out complex activities and functions.
- The learned ability to complete a pre-determined result, with maximum certainty and efficiency.
So, a skill is something learned in order to be able to carry out one or more functions.
What is a competency?
Different studies use different definitions of “competency,” but the terms below are commonly used:
- A collection of related abilities, knowledge and skills that enable a person to act effectively while doing a task or activity.
- Competencies refer to skills or knowledge that lead to superior performance.
- A competency involves the ability to meet complex demands by using psychosocial resources (including attitudes and skills).
- A measurable pattern of behaviors, skills, abilities and knowledge.
- Competencies are the “how” as supposed to the “what” of performing tasks.
Competencies may incorporate a skill, but involve more than just talent. They include behavior, ability, and knowledge needed to use a skill.
An example in the context of IT is programming. To be a programmer, a person needs to learn a programming language like PhP or Java. Learning this language is adding a skill to your set.
But to effectively write good programs, a programmer also needs good logical, analytical, and interpretative abilities. Combining these abilities and skills to complete a task is a competency.
Your personal core competencies
Writing down your own core competencies gives you a guide to decide what goals are a good fit for you. This can be a challenging task! Below, you’ll find a list of 95 core competencies to use as examples. The core competencies are sorted in alphabetical order, and fall into 3 different groups:
- Behavioral competencies (life skills)
- Functional competencies (or technical competencies)
- Professional competencies
95 Example Core Competencies
Accountability for Others – being responsible for the consequences of the actions of those whom you manage.
Accurate Listening – an openness to people and a willingness to hear what others are saying and not what you think they should say or are going to say.
Aesthetic – Motivated by balanced, creative self-expression, beauty and nature.
Analysis of Data – The job deals with many details. It requires that details, data and facts are analyzed and challenged prior to making decisions. And that important decision-making data is maintained accurately for repeated examination as required.
Attention to Detail – the ability to see and pay attention to details; the ability to recognize the component parts of a procedure or object. And to verify the correctness or error in an individual part or procedure.
Attitude toward Honesty – a person’s view of honesty, and of structure and order in society; the level of self-esteem available to accept the consequences of their own actions, and toward reporting the dishonesty of others.
Attitude toward Others – maintaining a positive, open, and objective attitude toward others.
Balanced Decision Making – the ability to be objective and to fairly evaluate the different aspects of a situation. And to make an ethical decision that takes into account all aspects and components; the ability to maintain balance between the needs of oneself, others, and the company at the same time.
Commitment to the Job – motivation from within oneself to stay focused and committed to a task.
Competitiveness – The job exists within a demanding environment where consistently winning is critical. The job demands tenacity, boldness, assertiveness and a “will to win” in dealing with highly competitive situations.
Conceptual Thinking – the ability to identify and evaluate resources and plan for their utilization throughout the execution of comprehensive, long-range plans.
Concrete Organization – the ability to understand the immediate, concrete needs of a situation and to establish an effective action plan for meeting those needs.
Consistency and Reliability – the capacity to feel an internal motivation to be conscientious in personal or professional efforts; the need to be consistent and reliable in life roles.
Conveying Role Value – the ability to draw upon a variety of capacities (empathetic, interpersonal, and leadership) to instill in an employee a sense of value for the task at hand.
Correcting Others – the ability to confront controversial or difficult issues in an objective manner; the ability to have non-emotion discussions about disciplinary matters.
Creativity – the ability to adapt traditional methods, concepts, models, designs, technologies, or systems to new applications; or the ability to devise new approaches to make improvements or solve problems.
Customer Oriented – The job demands a positive and constructive view of working with others. There will be a high percentage of time spent in listening to, understanding and successfully working with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds to achieve “win-win” outcomes.
Developing Others – the ability to understand the needs, interests, strengths, and weaknesses of others. And to utilize this information for contributing to the growth and development of others.
Emotional Control – the ability to maintain a rational and objective demeanor when faced with stressful or emotional situations; a measure of self-composure in a difficult situation and the ability to act objectively, rather than impulsively or emotionally.
Empathetic Outlook – the ability to perceive and understand the feelings and attitudes of others; the ability to place oneself “in the shoes” of another and to view a situation from their perspective.
Enjoyment of the Job – the feeling that one’s job is both fulfilling and rewarding and that it has a positive and useful benefit.
Evaluating Others – the ability to make realistic and accurate judgments about others. To evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. And to understand their manner of thinking, acting, and behaving.
Evaluating What Is Said – a person’s openness to people and willingness to hear what other people are saying. And not what they think they should say or are going to say.
Flexibility – the ability to readily modify, respond to, and integrate change with minimal personal resistance.
Following Directions – the ability to effectively hear, understand, and follow directions or instructions; the willingness to postpone making personal decisions, or taking action, until you have openly listened to what you are being asked to do.
Freedom from Prejudice – the ability to not allow unfair implications of prejudged information to enter into and effect an interpersonal relationship; not allowing a person’s class, race, sex, ethnicity, or personal philosophy to cause you to prejudge the actions, potential, intentions, or attitudes of others.
Frequent Change – The job requires a comfort level with “juggling many balls in the air at the same time!”. It will be asked to leave several tasks unfinished and easily move on to new tasks with little or no notice.
Frequent Interaction with Others – The job requires a strong “people orientation”, versus a task orientation. The job will comfortably deal with multiple interruptions on a continual basis, always maintaining a friendly interface with others.
Gaining Commitment – the ability to develop and invoke a self-starting attitude in employees in their pursuit of goals; the ability to motivate employees to do their best and to provide them with practical, concrete ideas and methods by which they can achieve their goals.
Goal Directedness – the ability to stay on target regardless of circumstances; the ability to stay focused on the task at hand.
Handling Rejection – the ability to handle rejection on a personal level, based solely on your self-esteem; the ability to see yourself as valuable, separate, and apart from your role or position in life.
Handling Stress – the ability to balance and defuse inner tensions and stresses; the ability to appropriately separate yourself from stressful situations and maintain your own sense of inner peace.
Human Awareness – the ability to be conscious of the feelings and opinions of others; to value others as people instead of just their organizational role or value.
Individualistic/Political – Motivated by personal recognition, freedom, and control over their own destiny and others.
Initiative – the ability to direct one’s energies toward the completion of a goal, without an external catalyst; the ability to initiate actions based on one’s own interpretation or understanding of a situation.
Integrative Ability – the ability to identify the elements of a problem situation and understand which components are critical; the ability to see different types of situation structures and therefore, different types of solutions.
Internal Self Control – the ability to maintain rational and objective actions when faced with a stressful and emotional situation.
Intuitive Decision Making – the ability to accurately compile intuitive perceptions about a situation into a decision or action; ability to be ‘intuitional’ as opposed to intellectual in decision making, and to be effective in doing it.
Job Ethic – the personal commitment an individual makes to executing a specific task.
Leading Others – the ability to organize and motivate people to get things accomplished in a way that everyone feels a sense of order and direction.
Long Range Planning – the ability to identify long-range goals and design realistic plans to attain them; the ability to see the big picture. And then determine what direction to take and how to use resources to attain future goals.
Meeting Standards – the ability to see and understand the stated requirements established for a job. And a person’s commitment to meeting them.
Monitoring Others – the ability to focus on the actions and decisions of others in a practical way to identify both successes and mistakes; the ability to identify the causes of success and failure and to do so in an objective and accurate manner.
Objective Listening – the ability to listen to many points of view without bias.
Organized Workplace – The job’s success depends on systems and procedures, its successful performance is tied to careful organization of activities, tasks and projects that require accuracy. Record keeping and planning are essential components of the job.
People Reading – the ability to “read between the lines” in such things as the body language, reticence, stress, and emotions of others.
Persistence – the ability to stay the course in times of difficulty; the ability to remain motivated to accomplish goals in the face of adversity or obstacles.
Personal Accountability – the ability to be responsible for the consequences of one’s own actions and decisions; taking responsibility for these decisions and not shifting focus on blame or poor performance somewhere else or on others.
Personal Commitment – the ability to focus and stay committed to a task; the measure of a person’s internal personal commitment without any external influences or pressures.
Personal Drive – a measurement of how strongly a person feels the need to achieve, accomplish, or complete something.
Personal Relationships – the motivation generated by the importance of forming personal relationships with the people with whom you work.
Persuading Others – the ability to persuade others, to present one’s viewpoint in such a way that it is accepted by others.
Practical Thinking – the ability to make practical, common sense decisions; to see and understand what is happening in a commonsense way.
Proactive Thinking – the ability to evaluate future implications of current decisions and action; the ability to mentally create the scenarios and outcomes of situations that could develop from decisions or plans of action.
Problem Management – the ability to keep critical issues in context so that you can understand what is happening. And effectively use one’s knowledge to solve problems.
Problem/Situation Analysis – the ability to identify the elements of a problem situation and to understand which components are critical; the ability to identify critical activities in a process. To be able to break the process down into its component activities.
Problem Solving Ability – the ability to identify alternative solutions to a problem and to select the best option; the ability to identify the system component that is causing the error. As well as the options available for resolving it and completing the task.
Project and Goal Focus – the ability to maintain your direction despite obstacles in your path; the ability to stay on target, regardless of circumstance.
Project Scheduling – the ability to understand the proper allocation of resources for the purpose of getting things done within a defined timeframe.
Quality Orientation – a person’s affinity for seeing details, grading them against a pre-set standard, and identifying flaws.
Realistic Expectations – the ability to have expectations of other people that can realistically be met. Either in quality of production or quality of performance.
Realistic Goal-setting for Others – the ability to set goals for others that can be achieved using available resources and operating within a projected timeframe; the ability to utilize previous measurable performance in the establishing of goals or quotas.
Realistic Personal Goal-setting – the ability to set goals for yourself that can be achieved using available resources. And operating within a projected timeframe.
Relating to Others – the ability to coordinate personal insights and knowledge of others into effective actions; the ability to make use of accurate interpersonal skills in interacting with others.
Respect for Policies – the ability to see and appreciate the value of conducting business affairs according to the intent of company policies and standards.
Respect for Property – the ability to see and appreciate the value of protecting and correctly using company property.
Results Orientation – the ability to identify actions necessary to achieve task completion and to obtain results; the ability to meet schedules, deadlines, quotas, and performance goals.
Role Awareness – your ability to see your role in the world, or within a given environment; your ability to understand the expectations placed on a position and to see clearly how those expectations are to be met.
Role Confidence – the ability to develop and maintain an inner strength based on the belief that one will succeed.
Seeing Potential Problems – the ability to structure current situations in an ongoing scenario and identify developments that could cause problems in the future.
Self-Assessment – the ability to practically and objectively identify one’s personal management strengths and weaknesses; the ability to take the skills and techniques gained in evaluating external situations. And apply them to evaluating your own performance and abilities.
Self Confidence – the ability to develop and maintain inner strength based on desire to succeed; a person’s belief that he or she possesses the capabilities to succeed.
Self-Direction – the internal drive to excel in a chosen career path; a desire to be “better” than you currently are, no matter how good you have already become.
Self-Discipline and Sense of Duty – the measure of strength you have in the convictions with which you rule your own conduct; the compulsion that you have to be true to the ideals you have set for yourself.
Self Esteem – the ability to realize and appreciate your own self-worth.
Self-Improvement – the motivation that a person has based on the importance of improving oneself; the motivation to obtain training and educational growth opportunities.
Self-Management – the ability to prioritize and complete tasks in order to deliver desired outcomes within allotted time frames.
Self-Starting Ability – the ability to find your own motivation for accomplishing a task. And the degree to which you will maintain this course in the face of adversity.
Sense of Belonging – how motivated a person is by feeling like part of a team or a member of a group.
Sense of Timing – the ability to accurately evaluate what is happening in such a way that statements, decisions, and actions are the most effective, accurate, and timely.
Sensitivity to Others – the ability to be sensitive and aware of the feelings of others. But not allow this awareness to get in the way of making objective decisions.
Social – Motivated by opportunities to be of service to others and contribute to the progress and wellbeing of society.
Surrendering Control – the ability to surrender control of a given situation; the ability to be comfortable in a situation where a significant portion of the responsibility for achieving a goal lies in the hands of others.
Systems Judgment – the ability to be balanced in getting things accomplished within the external system of people and things within which you work; your affinity for schematic thinking.
Theoretical – Motivated by work that requires specialized knowledge, continuing education and intellectual growth.
Theoretical Problem Solving – a person’s ability to apply problem solving abilities in a mental, or abstract, scenario; the ability to create, operate, and identify problems in a hypothetical situation. Then to manufacture the appropriate response to resolve the problem.
Traditional/Regulatory – Motivated by social structure, rules, regulations and principles.
Understanding Attitude – the ability to “read between the lines” in understanding such things as body language, reticence, stress, and emotions.
Understanding Motivational Needs – the ability to understand the needs and desires of employees enough that this knowledge may be used to motivate them to succeed; the ability to encourage a self-starting, active pursuit of goals and objectives.
Understanding Prospects’ Motivations – the ability to understand the needs and desires of prospective clients. And use this knowledge to help them sustain an emotional connection and motivate them to take action.
Urgency – The job requires decisiveness, quick response, fast action. It will often be involved in critical situations demanding that on-the-spot decisions be made with good judgment. The job will repeatedly face important deadlines that must be met on time.
Using Common Sense – the ability to focus on practical thinking; the ability to see the world clearly.
Utilitarian/Economic – Motivated by practical accomplishments, results and rewards for their investments of time, resources and energy.
Versatility – The job calls for a high level of optimism and a “can do” orientation. It will require multiple talents and a willingness to adapt them to changing assignments as required.