What are skills? Explanations & examples

What are skills?

Virtually every job ad or job description, nowadays, lists a whole bunch of ‘competences’ that the ideal candidate should have. But what do we mean exactly when we’re talking about ‘competences’? We’ll be answering this question with ten examples.


What are skills?

skillan ability to perform a specific task or activity to a high level of proficiency

It’s possible to acquire and hone skills to perfection (or near enough) through practice and dedication. Learning and mastering a skill involves far more than just a theoretical understanding of facts or concepts.

Even though we often use the terms ‘skill’ and ‘competence’ interchangeably, there’s a big difference. In short, a competence is a combination of knowledge, skills, and personality traits. A skill is, therefore, just one of the three elements that go to make up a competence.

Read our article Skills & competences – the difference for an in‑depth discussion.



There are many types of skill, and they can be categorized as practical, academic, or personal. Here are a few examples to clarify matters:

  1. Bandaging: one of the tasks required to perform first aid or care for someone injured.
  2. Presentation: an ability to verbally convey general and specialist information to an audience – clearly, convincingly, and compellingly.
  3. Design: a creative art requiring spatial insight.
  4. Drawing: a creative art of rendering reality in pictorial form.
  5. Analysis: an ability to dissect problems or issues into bite‑sized chunks in order to better understand the whole.
  6. Teaching: an ability to impart information or explain a concept to others.
  7. Programming: an ability to write logical code for creating computer software.
  8. Editing: the art of producing readable text and improving existing text.
  9. Listening: an ability to be patient and understand what someone else is trying to say or express.
  10. Sales: an ability to convince and persuade in a commercial setting.



There’s a shift in our modern‑day society and economy towards skills. Skills are perhaps becoming more important than qualifications as on‑the‑job learning becomes easier and easier with our ability to search and find information, and the availability of a useful tool for every task.

As skills become more important, your company needs to keep track of which skills you already have and which you’re still missing. After all, knowing what your staff can and can’t do provides both valuable insights and potential benefits.

Skills matrices are useful tools for mapping your staff’s skills and competences.

If you’re curious what skills matrices look like, download our free Excel skills matrix template or take a look at our special‑purpose skills management software solution!


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