Job searching? Time to get cozy with your KSAs!

If you’re currently looking for a job, chances are you’ve ignited your network, polished your resume, and practiced your interviewing skills. But have you spent any time identifying and learning how to highlight your KSAs?

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, collectively referred to as KSAs, are your unique job qualifications that employers often use to match you to a job opening. Let’s look at them each individually, and then consider how you might identify and highlight yours in a resume, cover letter, interview, or social media profile.


Knowledge is what you understand from education or experience. For instance, construction work requires knowledge of materials, methods, and tools. Office work can require knowledge of office procedures or of recordkeeping.


Abilities are personal traits enabling you to do certain things. Stamina, for example, is essential for physically demanding jobs like fitness trainers, firefighters, or servers. Many jobs may require an ability to meet deadlines or work under pressure.


Skills showcase what you’re good at. People gain skills from training or experience. In the workplace, there are two skill types: technical and soft skills, both vital for success.

  • Technical skills are job-specific, like Cooking, Flying a plane, or Teaching. These skills are often mentioned in job listings where tasks are described. Other examples of technical skills are Operating equipment, Developing a budget, Painting a portrait, Writing code, Counseling others, Researching scientific questions, and Selling products ee
  • Soft skills, on the other hand, are universal and apply to many jobs. These skills, such as Communication, Punctuality, and Task completion, are often learned in daily life and can be improved at any time. Other examples of soft skills are Teamwork, Critical thinking, Self-motivation, Flexibility, Determination and persistence, and Quick learning.

How to identify and highlight your KSAs

Whenever you apply for a job, it’s a good idea to make a simple table of your KSAs.

In one column, list any KSAs that show up in the posting, or that you suspect might be valuable to the employer. Some employers include a special heading called Required or Preferred KSAs. Others might list only required or preferred skills. And others might not mention the words Knowledge, Skills, or Abilities—but if you comb through the language in the posting you can usually identify several.

Then add a second column where you can describe how you meet the identified KSAs. It’s helpful to include examples or even anecdotes of how your match the KSAs. Visit CareerOneStop’s Skills Matcher to develop a list of your KSAs.

Once you’ve developed this table, you can use it to insert your KSAs into your resume. If you’re sending a cover letter, you can take the opportunity to explicitly describe how you meet the required or preferred KSAs. You can also do this in an interview. Some employers describe KSAs as the factors that identify the better candidates from a group of people basically qualified for a position, so you definitely want to let the employers know about yours!

Want more tips to help you land a job?  Visit CareerOneStop’s Job Search.

Tagged with: , , ,

Leave a Reply