Welcome to the KSAs Page!
The Importance of KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities)
in the Federal Application Process.
KSAs...Knowledge, Skills and Abilities...a list of special qualifications and personal attributes that you need to have for a particular job. These are the unique requirements that the hiring agency wants to find in the person selected to fill a particular job. A primary purpose of KSAs is to measure those qualities that will set one candidate apart from the others. In federal personnel guidance, KSAs are defined as the factors that identify the better candidates from a group of persons basically qualified for a position. How well an applicant can show that he or she matches the position's defined KSAs determines whether that person will be seriously considered for the job.
- Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. This is a document that is usually written for a specific federal job posting. It lists the knowledge, skills and abilities for an applicant interested in the position. Certain federal jobs require this document be included when an applicant submits their resume. Our staff can also write a general KSA based on the client’s resume. This term can be used to mean, “The entire KSA document as a whole”, and also as each individual point made in the document. For instance, if a particular job posting requires KSA’s, it will list what KSA points they want. For instance, one KSA may say “Experience in communicating complex technical financial and investment analyses, both verbally and in writing”. So in the KSA document we produce, the writer will write the word for word KSA from the posting, and following that point, will write how the client fits that particular “knowledge”, “skill” and “ability”. A typical KSA document will have five KSA points defined.
Knowledge:Knowledge statements refer to an organized body of information usually of a factual or procedural nature which, if applied, makes adequate performance on the job possible. Each KSA discusses a separate body of information applied directly to the performance of a function.
Skills:Skill statements refer to the proficient manual, verbal or mental manipulation of data or things. Skills can be readily measured by a performance test where quantity and quality of performance are tested, usually within an established time limit. Examples of proficient manipulation of things are skill in typing or skill in operating a vehicle. Examples of proficient manipulation of data are skill in computation using decimals; skill in editing for transposed numbers, etc.
Abilities:Ability statements refer to the power to perform an observable activity at the present time. This means that abilities have been evidenced through activities or behaviors that are similar to those required on the job, e.g., ability to plan and organize work. Abilities are different from aptitudes. Aptitudes are only the potential for performing the activity.
A key point to remember about all KSAs is that they must be job-related. An agency cannot ask for anything in a KSA that is not in the job's position description.
Hints to follow when developing your KSAs:
- Read the vacancy announcement carefully
- Gather the information needed to begin writing
- Be specific
- Be precise
- Get to the point
- Do not ramble
- Use lots of examples
- State specifically what you have done
- Do not use acronyms
- Present yourself in a clear and plain language
- Do not borrow language from the position description
- KSA means (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Statements.
- A typical KSA document will have five KSA questions.
- Each KSA point has the exact KSA from the job posting, followed by an essay. The KSA points are each written off a CCAR model. Content, Challenge, Action, Results.
- The KSA’s can be generic rather than the specific example given above. Examples of generic KSA’s you will always see are, “The ability to communicate orally” and, “The ability to communicate in writing”.
- KSA’s are usually no longer than one page per KSA question, but on occasion can be 1/2 page to 1 1/2 pages.
- KSAs must be addressed if requested on a vacancy announcement. Not addressing KSAs will definitely not earn you best qualified.
- Your KSA and federal resume is given a grade by a computer based on points.
- 20% to 40% of your grade for a federal job is from the KSA alone.
- Your KSA can be submitted along with your resume on many federal job websites. On most of those sites, there is a place for additional information. This will be where you can place the KSA document information for submission.
- Some on-line federal job applications call KSAs essay questions or narratives.
- KSAs are stories of your experience, not merely job descriptions.
- KSAs are just as or more important than your federal resume.
- The Dept of the Navy is starting to request KSAs when you earn qualified on your Resumix submission and more information is required.
- You can include education, training, volunteer work, curriculum syllabus and many other forms of experience in support of your KSA answer.
- Ask for help writing your KSAs if you are unsure of the content to include.
Definition of KSAsWhen you apply for a Federal Government position, some Federal job announcements require additional statements. These statements are known as KSAs - Knowledge, Skills, and Ability statements. They also may be called Selective Factors, Key Elements, TQs (Technical Qualification statements), Essay Statements, KSAOs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other Characteristics). If they are asked for within a Federal Vacancy announcement, they are required or your application will be considered ineligible.
What Do KSAs Require?
For many announcements, these questions are separate 1/2 to 1 page answers to questions related to the job you are applying for. Other announcements may specify other lengths - or may ask to include answers to the KSAs in your RESUMIX resume. Some announcements require you to transfer your KSA answers in an online application. You will need to read each announcement carefully for specific requirements such as character count. We can help you to read these announcements to determine what is required.
How Do You Answer KSAs?
KSAs can be difficult questions to answer. KSAs are questions asked that must provide justification to each specific question asked. For example KSAs are written in a CCAR (Content, Challenge, Action and Result) model. Typically these questions do not want you to ramble on describing job descriptions, but are looking for stories that support your involvement and experience relating to the KSA question asked. You will want to devise some of your best accomplishments in these statements. Each KSA will be graded from 5 to 20 points per answer - and are critical in being ranked as "qualified" or "best qualified". We offer our expertise in writing these statements, highlighting your experience to ensure maximum KSA ranking.
What Do We Recommend?
We recommend that you read your Federal Vacancy announcement carefully and determine if indeed KSAs are required. If so, we recommend that we write both your KSAs and Federal Resume. By doing this, you will submit a complete package that represents you at your best, with the Federal Resume including all pertinent information in the KSAs. However, if you think your Federal Resume is already a polished document, we are happy just to write your KSAs.