Difference Between Knowledge And Skills (With Tips And FAQs)

Updated 19 September 2023

The terms knowledge and skill seem similar, but they have many key differences. They are two important areas of professional development and improving them can help advance in the career. Understanding the difference between skills and knowledge allows you to better prepare yourself for job offers and interviews. In this article, we discuss the key difference between knowledge and skills, the definition of knowledge and skills along with their types, tips for developing them and some frequently asked questions.

Related: Difference Between Skills And Qualities (With Examples)

What is the key difference between knowledge and skills?

The primary difference between knowledge and skills is what and how you learn. Knowledge implies a theoretical component and refers to information about a particular subject you acquire through books, newspapers, magazines, encyclopaedias, the internet or college. Skills imply a practical aspect and refer to applying theoretical knowledge in practice and on the job.

Following are some key differences between knowledge and skill:

  • Knowledge refers to familiarity with factual information, but skills refer to the ability to apply knowledge to specific situations.

  • You can acquire knowledge through education, whereas gaining skill often requires practice.

  • An example of knowledge can be knowing the recipe for a cake and the skill is to bake that cake.

What is knowledge?

Knowledge is the collection of facts and information that you possess and can use to accomplish your job. It comprises topics you understand and the information you know. Possessing knowledge implies that you understand how to do something, but not that you can actually do it. This distinguishes knowledge from skills. You can acquire knowledge by engaging in activities such as conducting research, attending lectures and reading books and articles. Additionally, as your career experience grows, you can expand your knowledge.

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Types of knowledge

Following are some common types of knowledge with their examples:

  • Prior knowledge: It is the knowledge of facts where a person can easily draw conclusions from reading them. For example, a person with knowledge of civil engineering can conclude if a bridge can sustain the weight of the expected vehicle load.

  • Dispersed knowledge: Definition of dispersed knowledge can be the knowledge that a single individual cannot grasp and such knowledge are available among several people. For example, a doctor has knowledge of medical science and can treat fever or headache, but the same doctor may not be able to do brain surgeries.

  • Expert knowledge: The knowledge of a person having expertise in a particular domain is expert knowledge. For instance, a blockchain developer may have in-depth knowledge regarding blockchain features and functionalities.

  • Empirical knowledge: It is the knowledge people gain through the sense organs. For example, the majority of research is empirical, with the researcher collecting what they observe or experience.

  • Explicit knowledge: Knowledge that is easy to understand and explain to other people is explicit knowledge. For example, everyone can understand the home appliance guides or manuals.

  • Imperative knowledge: It is the fundamental understanding that enables a person to accomplish a task effectively. For example, in an organisation, usually, the managers do the important tasks which ensure the smooth operation in the organisation.

What are skills?

Skills may involve handling or manipulating items, data or people, either verbally or manually, to fulfil an objective. There are two major types, hard and soft skills. Hard skills or technical skills usually require practice and training, such as computer skills.

Soft skills are those that depend on an individual's personality characteristics and can include communication, integrity, empathy and emotional intelligence. Soft skills are often transferable, as they are beneficial in many positions. The majority of jobs require a combination of fundamental soft skills and job-specific hard skills. One can develop skills through practice and observation.

Related: 20 People Skills To Use In The Workplace And Include On A Resume

Types of skills

Skills are essential in every field of life. It is important to acquire some skills based on the type of career of interest. Here are some common types of skills:

  • Commercial awareness: Commercial awareness is knowing how a particular business or company's finance works. A basic understanding of concepts such as cost, revenue and profits are often helpful.

  • Communication: Communication is an important skill in every field. A person with clear and concise communication is often more effective at the workplace.

  • Teamwork: A person who works efficiently within the team can usually perform successfully consistently. A person who is a good team player can contribute more to achieve the company's objectives.

  • Negotiation and persuasion: A person with good negotiation and persuasion skills can help the company and the employee to achieve their goals.

  • Leadership: Leadership skills allow one to effectively motivate and inspire their colleagues to reach a particular goal or complete their tasks.

  • Ability to work under pressure: It gives a person the capacity to keep calm when there is a workload and maintain efficiency levels, even under pressure.

  • Confidence: It is one of the important skills that an individual can gain. A humble and confident person is often more likely to get a leadership role.

Related: The Knowledge Management Concept (Importance And Benefits)

Tips for developing your knowledge and skills

Here are some useful tips for improving your knowledge and skills to advance your career:

Set goals

Setting goals is an effective way to improve your skills and knowledge. Determine the specific knowledge and skills that you wish to acquire and then establish a SMART goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Establishing this type of goal can assist you in acquiring new knowledge and skills within a specified time period.

Related: How To Set And Achieve Long-Term Goals (With Examples)

Find the skills to develop

Conducting a self-assessment to determine your hard and soft skills and focusing on the ones you want to develop can be a core professional development activity. A self-assessment test can help determine your natural ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. You may also receive customised reports that can assist you in better understanding what makes you unique and how to maximise your potential by utilising your strengths.

Related: 20 People Skills To Use In The Workplace And Include On A Resume

Pursue further education

Pursuing additional education is one way to expand your knowledge and skills. You can explore various degree options to enhance your qualifications in your chosen field of work. For instance, if you want to further your education and pursue a career in marketing, you can earn a marketing degree.

Earn certifications

Many individuals enhance their credentials by obtaining certifications. You can research the most prestigious certifications in your industry to determine which ones are most beneficial to you. Additionally, research certifications that teach you new skills or broaden your knowledge in a particular field. You can also include certifications on your resume to demonstrate your expertise.

Related: What Are The Best Corporate Certifications To Get The Job?

Take online courses

Online courses can assist you in advancing your career. Several online courses are available at your own pace and from any location and they cover a wide variety of subject areas. For example, if you want to improve your design skills, you can enrol in a professional graphic design course.

Frequently asked questions about knowledge and skill

Here are some frequently asked questions about knowledge and skill:

Which is more important, knowledge or skills?

Knowledge encompasses both theoretical and practical information, facts or abilities that you acquire through experience or education. As you gain experience, your knowledge increases. A skill is the capacity to perform an action competently. A well-developed ability can elevate you to the level of experts in a particular field.

Why developing skills is important?

Developing skills may allow you to feel more confident in doing various tasks, and you can become faster and efficient in completing a task. Diverse workplace skills also allow you to position yourself as an attractive candidate for a job role. On a personal level, having good technical skills can allow you to save time, as you can solve small issues independently.

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What comes first, knowledge or experience?

Knowledge and experience appear to be very similar. By definition, knowledge refers to the facts and abilities you gain through experience or education. In contrast, experience is the knowledge or skill you gain through practical exposure.

What are job knowledge and skills?

Job knowledge and skills help measure an employee's job-relevant knowledge and essential skills. It measures understanding of work practices, policies, procedures, resources, laws, customer service and technical information, and work relationship to the organisation's mission. Having relevant job knowledge and skills on your resume can make you a suitable candidate for a job you are applying for.

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