Types Of Competencies (And How They Differ From Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As a firm grows, it is important that they hire candidates with the right competencies for the position available. During the hiring process, companies often assess the candidates to ensure they have relevant competencies and can perform the expected standards efficiently. This makes it important that you understand the competencies that apply to the field in which you work and can highlight them effectively to show your suitability for the role. In this article, we define competency, discuss the types of competencies and also explain how it differs from skills to help you understand the term better.

Related: Core Competencies: Examples And How To Discover And Use Them

What Is Competency?

Competency is the ability of an individual to apply related skills, knowledge and abilities to perform professional duties successfully in a defined work setting. For instance, you may have the required competency in coding after completing relevant educational degrees. A professional may have multiple competencies depending on their work experience, educational background and other training programmes they undertook.

Types Of Competencies

The types of competencies an individual possesses may often be critical to their professional success. These competencies usually have two categories, including functioning and role. There are sub-divisions to these categories, which you can find below:

Based on functioning

You can further categorise functioning competencies into three different types:

1. Core competencies

The abilities and skills that make up an individual's competitive advantages are their core competencies. It is important for you to identify, develop and capitalise on your core strengths to ensure you have a versatile competency for your field to make yourself more employable. You can enumerate these competencies on your resume to highlight them when applying for jobs. Analytical capabilities, creative thinking and problem-solving abilities are some examples of key personal characteristics.

Related: Core Values: Overview And Examples

2. Cross-functional competencies

These competencies are those that are specifically not chosen as core competencies. These skills are often necessary for a variety of occupations in several roles. Examples of these competencies include budgeting, computer proficiency and other topics. There are several advantages to cross-functional abilities that you might anticipate.

3. Functional competencies

Functional competencies are usually exclusive to a field, division or job category. Businesses may encounter a variety of difficulties in operating and growing due to changing market requirements. For a firm to succeed, it typically requires a certain set of individuals with specialised skills.

Functional competencies are crucial to the success of any business as they often possess significant subject knowledge, technical proficiency and other pertinent elements required for its efficient operation. Because of this, companies usually prioritise hiring candidates with a set of abilities that are pertinent to their position in the organisational structure and function to ensure they can perform effectively after getting hired.

Related: How To Design A Skills Matrix (With Steps And Examples)

Based on roles

Here are the types of competencies based on roles:

1. Organisational competencies

Organisational competencies are the skills necessary for the organisation to excel and maintain its position as a market leader. These competencies include a list of anticipated attitudes, abilities and behaviours that contribute to the organisation's effective performance. The skills of the organisation's personnel can often determine its overall performance. Organisational competencies are those properties that the employees of an organisation may apply to be successful in their respective positions.

Related: Types Of Motivation For Career Advancement (With Examples)

2. Job competencies

These comprise the skills that, when displayed, lead to efficient work or task performance. For instance, competencies for a sales job role may require those relevant to the sales function, such as fulfilling weekly goals, convincing clients or customers of the product's benefits and customising offers and items to suit the client's requirements. Employers often prioritise a candidate's job competencies to assess and ensure the new recruits can perform their professional responsibilities per the company requirements and assist in the company's performance and growth positively.

3. Technical competencies

Technical competencies refer to how knowledge and you can apply abilities to complete a particular job or collection of jobs within the company framework successfully. Technical competencies are behaviours that have a direct relationship to the type of instruction received and the level of technical expertise required to exercise effective operational control. Competency in a job demands alignment between the operator's capabilities and those required to do the work safely and efficiently.

4. Personal competencies

Personal competencies emphasise performance or output from the job, whereas job role competencies show the variety of inputs required for the task. Personal competencies relate to one's ability to carry out tasks as required by a job function. Though technology continues to develop, personal abilities continue to be a top priority for most companies. For instance, recruiters seek candidates who are more adaptable, open-minded, think critically after considering different perspectives, take on multiple roles, adapt behaviours to team requirements, manage uncertainties and can remain motivated even when encountering setbacks.

5. Behavioural competencies

Behavioural competencies refer to the knowledge, abilities, attitudes and behaviours that can help complete tasks effectively independently or in collaboration. They are any actions, attitudes or character attributes that may gauge a candidate's likelihood of succeeding in the position for which they are applying. These competencies may also comprise information, abilities and behaviours that can differentiate a candidate from the rest.

6. Management competencies

You may refer to the abilities, routines, professional goals and approach required to manage people as management competencies. When you cultivate management competencies, they may improve leadership and aid in corporate performance. Human capital, which is roughly described as the knowledge and abilities that contribute to workplace productivity, is a category that includes management competencies. For a workforce that is productive, the human resources required for management competency are also often essential.

Related: 13 Important Judgement Skills And How To Improve Them

7. Leadership Competencies

You can consider a leader as an individual with a versatile skill set to perform their duties effectively. A leadership position in a company may call for a variety of personality or behavioural qualities. To assume a leadership role, it is important for an employee to possess a few fundamental skills, though. These may be based on five crucial factors, including business savvy, effect and influence, communication abilities, honesty and conceptual skills. While the first four characteristics are usually fundamental to being a successful leader, business savvy is also as crucial.

Related: Top Qualities Of An Outstanding Leader

How Are Competencies Different From Skills?

Though competency and skill may seem similar, they have distinct differences. Here is how competency and skill differ from each other:

Basis

Competencies are value-based, whereas skills are measurable. As competencies can often depend on values and company culture, they may be difficult to assess and standardise. While it is possible to test and standardise skills, it can get complicated to assign a value or measurable quantum to an individual's competency. For instance, it is possible to evaluate if someone has coding knowledge and estimate how well they know it. Whereas, it is difficult to evaluate someone's analytical abilities.

Flexibility

Skills are often agile, as you can develop them with education and skill enhancement programmes. A person may require months or even years to gain a specific competency. For example, you can learn how to use the software within a few months by learning about it and using it regularly. In comparison, you may not become competent in a field in the same period.

Transferability

You can use the same skills as you change organisations or roles, across jobs, projects and tasks. Whereas, typically, you cannot transfer competencies across professions or collaborative projects. This is because characteristics, such as performance expectations, attitudes and behaviours, make up competencies, which may differ from organisation to organisation, depending on their priorities and goals.

For example, you may learn a programming language and add it to your list of skills. These can be helpful when you change jobs in a similar field or role. The competency required for the role can vary based on the organisation and the responsibilities involved.

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