How can I describe competences more clearly and concisely?

In this article, we discuss how to describe competences more clearly and concisely. It offers practical tips and techniques for effectively communicating competencies in a straightforward manner.

Having the right competences are critical to performing well in a given role. Yet, they always seem to remain a somewhat abstract concept. So, how can you describe competences to make them clearer and more concise for job ads or training purposes, for example? This is the question we’ll be answering in this article.

So, what are ‘competences’? Copied

A competence is in essence the sum total of an individual’s character traits and qualities as they manifest in terms of professional behavior. It’s a catch-all for the combination of skills, knowledge, and attitudes someone uses in their working life.

Although the terms ‘skill’ and ‘competence’ are often used interchangeably, there are certainly differences in meaning. A ‘skill’ is a component of a ‘competence’. As such, ‘competence’ has a broader meaning than ‘skill’.

Examples of competences Copied

Maybe, this still sounds a little vague, so before we start describing competences more clearly and concisely, it’s worth taking the time to look at a few examples of competences to understand the term itself.

  • Analysis
    Able to understand complex datasets, see interdependencies, and draw conclusions.
  • Delegation
    Able to pass on tasks and responsibilities to co-workers within an organization.
  • Leadership
    Able to unite a group of employees in their working activities and lead them toward a common goal.
  • Presentation
    Able to convey an idea or information to others in a clear, compelling, and enthusiastic manner.
  • Collaboration
    Able to work with others and make a valuable contribution toward a shared result.

A competence is the sum of the parts Copied

Competences are often made up of several skills and relevant, related knowledge. For example, instructing, coaching, and making agreements are important skills for ‘delegation’. But to use these skills effectively, it’s also important to have relevant knowledge.

How someone combines these skills and knowledge in practice will manifest in their conduct or behaviors. The sum total of what we see in practice in terms of observable behavior then equates to the competence as a whole.

Describing competences clearly & concisely Copied

When communicating about competences, you often have to describe them quite clearly and concisely. Simply stating the name of the competence in a job ad, training guide, or job description generally isn’t enough. And when writing a resume or covering letter, it’s smart to describe your competences in a little more detail, casting them in a practical light. This gives the reader a clearer picture of what to expect.

Tips for describing competences:

  • Provide context
    Describe the competence in relation to the field of work or role in which it’s needed.
  • Use vivid examples
    Paint a picture detailing how the competence is applied in daily practice and give tangible examples.
  • Less is more!
    Keep it sweet and simple (KISS). It’s best to stick to describing just the competence’s core, rather than including every single detail.

How does this look in practice?

  • Job ad for a graphic designer
    You work well with others. You’ll be working with our copywriter and social media marketing team on a daily basis, creating appealing visuals to activate our target groups online.
  • Training guide for a supermarket manager
    You love delegating. Thanks to your clear instructions, your supermarket staff always know which shelves to prioritize for restocking and which checkouts to staff at peak times.
  • Job application for an accountancy firm
    I am good at presenting. In my current role, I present the financials to senior management every quarter.

Tip – make competences visual! Copied

Use skills matrices to make it quicker and easier for you to view your organization’s skills clearly and understandably.

Using skills matrices has numerous benefits …

  • see at a glance which competences are available, scarce, or missing
  • find replacements and extra personnel more quickly and easily
  • simplify audits by having every piece of relevant documentation at your fingertips

Using special-purpose skills management software, you can accurately map, view, and update information about your staff’s competences in real time.

Schedule a free demo to find out how skills management software would benefit your organization!

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Original version | December 3, 2021

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