Knowledge, skills, and abilities – How should we differentiate between them?

In a recruitment process for a job, there are three components that guide an employer or recruiter to select candidates. With their help, they can identify strengths and weaknesses of candidates and the person who fits a position best can be selected.

We are talking about knowledge, skills, and abilities, three elements between which you can find subtle differences, and that can often be confused. It is important to note that the distinction between them derives from the fact that some of might be innate qualities while others are acquired through theoretical learning or experience gained over time.

Often recruiters and employers are surprised to discover that those who apply for a job fail in classifying them and correctly pointing then out in their resumes.

Knowledge – How to gain it and what does it mean

The level of education, professional experience, training and professional qualification courses leads to the accumulation of knowledge. This knowledge is indispensable for a resume and is emphasized in a recruitment process so that employers will realize whether or not a candidate knows what is needed to meet the requirements of a particular job.

Knowledge is theoretical or practical understanding of a work in a particular field. For example, we can talk about specific software operating knowledge that could help someone successfully face a job in IT.

Skills – What do they mean and how do they help

Skills can develop with the continuous accumulation of experience, information, and knowledge, and are extremely helpful for the accomplishment of specific job-related tasks.

Skills can be technical, such as those related to the use of IT programming languages, or non-technical, such as those related to time management, project management, implementing a strategy or managing a budget.

There is a very fine border between skills and abilities, which is why the two notions are often confused. According to some opinions, the main difference between the two would be that some are acquired, and the others are innate.

How to identify abilities

Sometimes a certain form of behavior and a certain type of attitude that a person would take in a given situation are things that underlie how that person does his job. By definition, abilities are positive qualities, they can exist or not in a candidate’s profile and could be defined by how well he knows to implement knowledge and skills.

For example, the skills of an IT employee can help him easily identify and solve in a very short time the problems that a computer system could encounter. Successfully solving problems that a job could involve is an ability, and it is backed not only by knowledge, but also by a number of personal attributes, such as reaction speed or resistance to stress.

In conclusion, the recruitment process for a job should take into account these issues and job descriptions include a portrait of the ideal candidate, the candidate who should succeed to take over the tasks of the new job and successfully cope with them thanks to his knowledge, skills, and abilities.