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Understanding the difference between Competency and Skill is necessary for designing a better talent management process.


Why should you find out what is the difference between Competency and Skill?


Are you looking for an answer about what is the difference between Competency and Skill?

Great, as a Human Resource (HR) professional you are already at the first step of understanding how to create a better talent management process in your organization.

For a brief guide to how competency helps in better HRM, you may click here.

Hiring is the first process of Human Resource management. You need manpower to fuel your organization, right? So, how do you attract a good number of applicants for any vacancy in your company?

Probably you start with a job posting or handing over a JD (job description) to your recruitment vendor.

But most of the job description used in job postings are dated.

A traditional job description uses skills, duties, and responsibilities to define the job; however, this is not enough! It is important to note there is a difference between skills and competencies and a better understanding of the difference may lead to a clearer, more defined job description.

Why do some people think Competency and Skill are similar?

Some managers perceive skill and a competency are similar. Because Competency and skill both identify an ability that an individual has acquired through training and experience.

But the two concepts are not identical in terms of their definitions or the function they perform within the talent-management process.

The Difference between Competency and Skill:

A skill is the “Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience.”

Knowing which skills a person possesses helps us determine whether their training and experience have prepared them for a specific type of workplace activity.

In other words, skills give us the “what” types of abilities a person needs to perform a specific activity or job.

But skills don’t give us the “how” would an individual perform a job successfully? They cannot predict “how” shall they behave in the workplace environment to achieve the desired result.

Competencies provide that missing piece of the puzzle by translating skills into on-the-job behaviours that demonstrate the ability to perform the job requirements competently.

To succeed on the job, employees need to demonstrate the right mix of skills, knowledge, and on-the-job ability.

A well-defined, multilevel competency defines each of these elements in terms that allow managers and HR professionals to observe and recognize them through qualifying materials such as resumes, tests, and interviews, and through on-the-job performance in the workplace.

Skills are one of three facets that make up a competency: the other two are knowledge and abilities.

A practical example that differentiates Competency and Skill:

You can take for an example the word “communication”. Is it a “skill” or “competency”?

A person can become a good presenter through practice, by learning from others, and education.

But to be successful in a certain job which requires strong communication, he/she needs a combination of skills, behaviour and knowledge.

Though he/she may be a good presenter; but, advanced language skills, the knowledge of diverse cultures, and behaving patiently when communicating are also essential ingredients of success.

Further his/her intent to learn newer things, problem-solving skills under new situations and the ability to handle stress also important indicators which may predict the ability to perform the satisfactorily at work.

To understand what is competency in greater detail Click here.

Why are Competencies important?

Competencies give employees and candidates a clearer picture of performance expectations and what they need to succeed in the job.

It can provide applicants with an accurate reflection of the work they are expected to perform and recruiters and interviewers with a guide to how each candidate should be evaluated.

While skills are an important part of any job profile, they’re not robust or nuanced enough to guide your talent-management activities.

To manage the talent lifecycle, you need to figure out which competencies are necessary to accomplish each job successfully.