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March 31, 2009

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KSA stands for Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. Knowledge refers to one's familiarity with subjects related to a job; Skills refer to competence, proficiency or expertise in a certain area; and Abilities indicate demonstrated use of the knowledge and skills a candidate possesses.

KSAs are most often associated with applications for federal jobs. Candidates are usually asked to answer several questions regarding their skills, qualifications and ability to perform the job they are applying for. The questions are designed to get a more detailed description of your job history and abilities, so that a recruiter can determine how well you would fare in a specific field or position.

Typical KSA questions cover your ability to communicate verbally and in writing; your familiarity with specific policies and procedures; and your level of experience in the field.

The functional resume
Like the KSA, the functional resume highlights skills and accomplishments, rather than work experience. This is specifically useful for recent grads with little work experience, people who are reentering the workplace, and career changers who want to emphasize their transferable skills. These skills may have been gained through paid employment, volunteer work, and hobbies.

The headings on a functional resume focus also focus on Knowledge, Skills and Abilities - they may include any of the following: "Work Objectives," "Relevant Skills (or coursework/training)," "Relevant Work Experience," "Qualifications" "Capabilities," and "Professional Accomplishments." Sometimes candidates create combination functional/chronological resumes that include job titles, employers, and dates of employment in an "Employment History" or "Professional Experience" section.

Put in the extra effort
The KSA and functional resume give you the opportunity to walk a recruiter through your work history and match up skills and accomplishments that might not be as obvious when laid out in a traditional chronological format. In short, you are pleading your case to the recruiter - so put a little extra effort into them. Be very specific, and use active verbs as well as relevant keywords.

A final note
Make sure it's easy for recruiters to determine which skills match up with which jobs. You might want to include the name of the company within the descriptions in the "Relevant Skills" section of your resume. And you should always include at least a bare-bones chronological account of your work history in a separate section. Though some people hate creating job objectives, you might want to write one to further clarify the fact that you are looking to apply your skills to a new industry or job function. And try to tailor each resume for each job you are applying for.

When you're done, ask a friend to review your resume and give objective feedback. In addition to checking for mistakes, see if they can figure out what type of job you're applying for based on the knowledge, skills and abilities you have highlighted.

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