What Does Career Competency Mean?

Career competencies are the skills required to successfully perform a job.
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One of the many terms that you'll likely come across during your working life is "career competency." Competencies are skills, knowledge or abilities that enable good performance in a particular role. Most of these competencies are learned in a work environment rather than through formal education. For example, a graduate degree in medicine doesn't guarantee success in physical therapy. If you want to succeed, you'll need certain career competencies such as sensitivity to the needs of others.

Effect on Productivity

    According to research cited by the American Society for Training & Development, some individuals may be 20 times more productive than others. This productivity does not happen because of some magic formula. Top performers in any given job perform well because they have the relevant competencies required for the job. Employers hire individuals who can outperform others because the result is a more efficient and productive company.


    Organizations look for demonstrated competencies such as effective decision making, exhaustive planning and the ability to manage change for people in senior positions. In entry level positions, they might look for technical knowledge, speed and efficiency in completing tasks, while adaptability and teamwork skills would serve a mid-level career professional well. Personal attributes such as self motivation, integrity, willingness to learn and creativity are also favored competencies.

Self Assessment

    Your career competencies are clues to areas in which you'll perform well. For example, if you are decisive and have a knack for influencing others, you might be suited for a manager's role. Knowing your competencies can help you decide the skills, capabilities and knowledge you need to acquire to move ahead in your career. Competency awareness is also helpful in determining additional training you might need before pursuing a particular job or career.

Structured Interviews

    Structured job interviews are likely to probe your use of certain competencies. For example, an interviewer might ask a prospective manager to discuss a situation in which she resolved a conflict. A project manager might be asked to discuss a time when projects with equal priorities landed on his desk. In these situations, the interviewer is in search of examples that demonstrate the interviewee's use of competencies such as leadership, organization, negotiating, creativity and communication to resolve issues.

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