communication image by Louise McGilviray from

What Are Skills & Competencies?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

In the business world, being competitive means having a long list of skills and competencies. Skills and competencies are abilities or knowledge you have that enable you to do your job well. Employers look for specific competencies and skills based on the field in which you want to be hired. For example, a field like graphic design would need creative skills, while a field like technology might need more knowledge of math or analysis. However, a list of common skills and competencies can help you get a sense of how an employer evaluates you, regardless of your career path.


Communication probably is the skill/competency that employers desire across all fields the most. Communication skills involve speaking and writing, presenting data and (occasionally) interpreting from language to language. They also involve use of proper body language. Employers value these skills/competencies because good communication makes work efficient and reduces conflict.


Analysis involves taking data sets and examining them for the purpose of problem solving. Without analysis, businesses would not be able to learn where their weak points are and fix them. Research skills--such as the ability to contact experts, look at professional journals, conduct experiments and make reports--are often at the forefront of the analysis process.


Managing includes skills and competencies such as allocating resources (including time), making and implementing budgets, and following business law. It also involves the ability to organize and follow through with interviews, hiring and termination.


Computer and technology competencies are increasingly in demand because of the increase in automated services and the Internet. These skills involve the ability to use software, troubleshoot hardware issues, type, and send and receive e-mails and faxes. Advanced positions may consider skills such as coding and hardware engineering a must.


Innovation skills are "creative" skills. They include skills such as coming up with new objectives, being able to problem solve with few resources, paying attention to detail and being self-motivated.


A major organizational competency is the ability to see the big picture--i.e., the ability to understand the overall objectives of a group so that everything else can be designed or formulated around those goals. Organizational skills and competencies involve keeping track of resources and distributing them where the are needed most, gathering information and being sensitive to any diversity in the organization and its resources. Leadership skills also fall under the umbrella of organization.

Soft Skills

Soft skills involve using all other skills and competencies to diffuse conflicts. An example of a soft skill would be listening well or negotiating. These skills by nature require that a person be able to pay attention not only to the environment, but also to culture and personalities.


About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website,, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.

Photo Credits

  • communication image by Louise McGilviray from