Do you also find it difficult describing what you can do, or what your core competences are with reference to what is requested in a job posting? When applying for a job it is necessary that you can target your competences and explain why these are valuable to a potential employer, to show what makes you stand out from the crowd. Therefore, we have compiled a few advices that first can help you become more aware of your competences, secondly, how to describe them and finally, most important how to present them for a future employer. We will also give you concrete tools and exercises in how you can identify, prioritise and target your competences so that you get one step closer to your dream job.
What is a competence clarification?
Competence as a concept can in short be described as “the ability to do something”. A longer explanation of the concept is “the knowledge, the skills and the experiences you have obtained, that are decisive for the assignments you can solve, and how you solve them”. When you manage to put a label on your competences, it becomes easier for you to describe what you can offer the organisation. Being able to show what the organisation will “gain from you” is one of the most important things that makes you stand out in your job search.
To get an overview, competences can be divided into; professional- and general competences. Professional competences are those competences obtained through education, employment or leisure activities. Examples are project management, programming and accounting. The personal competences are on the other hand, your qualities that impact how you tackle and perform your daily work together with your co-workers. E.g. if you are analytical, independent, curious, detail-oriented and outgoing. The remaining competences are not linked to your personality or education, and are general competences, e.g. language skills and IT.
How do I make a competence clarification?
When defining your competences, it is important that you work systematically and reflect over when and how you have used your competences. A simple but useful model to create a competence clarification is a model based on three steps; 1. identify, 2. prioritise, 3. target.
1. Identify your competences
The first step in the competence clarification is to map all your competences in order to become aware of what you can (professional competences) and what you are (personal competences). The easiest way to get an overview is to write down your competences and then distinguish between professional, personal and general competences. Be aware that it may take some time identifying your competences so be patient. Besides, it is important to remember that your competences are something you obtain throughout your life and that you are constantly getting new competences.
2. Prioritize your competences
After identifying your competences, you are faced with a long list of competences. Most likely, you are stronger (and weaker) in some of these competences and the next step is therefore to prioritise the competences based on e.g. the competences you rather use in your work life. You can also try to select “unique” competences which distinguishes you from other applicants. Try to ask yourself which competences – professional and personality combined– makes you unique?
3. Target your competences
The last step, perhaps also the most difficult one, is reflecting over your successes and experiences. Where and when did you use your competences and how did they add value? Try to put in words how you, forward-looking, can create value for a future employer.
By using your list of competences, you can begin to target the competences by answering the following questions:
- How did I use the competence in question, e.g. what task did I solve?
- How will I use the competence in my daily work, e.g. which sector or job function requires this competence?
Ask the same questions to all the competences that are relevant for the job you are applying for. These reflections will help you target your competences while simultaneously making you more aware of what you can contribute with. In addition, it can help you identify whether you need to acquire some new competences.
Use the model above to create your own competence clarification, starting by identifying your competences and divide them into professional, personal and general competences. Thereafter, prioritise your core competences that will make you stand out from the crowd. Finally, use the overview to target your competences and describe where and how you used them. In that way you can show your future employer what you have to offer.
Good luck with your competence clarification!