Core Competencies; your skills and strengths

The first exercise when making a personal life plan is to create a list of your core competencies. Your skills and strengths are what you are good at — these are what influence your chances of success.

You conducted a review of yourself, so you should have a good idea about your own personal core competencies. 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 this exercise.

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

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! In Appendix A, 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

Try to keep your core competencies list to a maximum of six. Chances are that you will recognize yourself in more than six of these competencies — but it all comes down to selecting those that fit the best.

See a list of 95 core competencies

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