To be considered for a Federal job, you need to meet or exceed the minimal education and experience requirements. Frequently, many applicants meet or exceed these requirements. This is where the KSA (knowledge, skills and abilities) comes into play. When applying for most Federal jobs, you are required to include a KSA. This is a very important document in the hiring process. Your KSA response is where you list your personal qualifications and attributes that are related to the job you are applying for.
Without a KSA, your application will not be seriously considered for a federal job. Your KSA is what enables you to paint a better picture of why you are the best person for the job. This is where you get a chance to make your application stand out in the mind of the person who is screening applicants.
KSA Writing Format
KSA writing is not easy and requires to strict guidelines established by the Federal government. Your KSA should be fairly short and concise. When writing your KSA, you should avoid excess writing. A thorough KSA should only use approximately two-thirds of a page. Your KSA should point out why you are clearly the best choice for this position. Each job that requires a KSA will have specific KSA questions posted for you to respond to. This means, unlike your resume, you are going to have to write a new KSA for each job that you apply for.
The 'knowledge' portion of the KSA refers to information that you have, either factual or procedural, that is required for will be helpful in the position you are applying for.
Mental, manual or verbal skills that you possess relating to the position you are applying for. These 'skills' can have to do with manipulation of data, people, or other things.
As you can imagine, 'abilities' refers to your mental or physical ability to perform within the position that you are applying for.
KSA Writing Process
You should write your KSA in first person narrative. After you have read, and closely re-read the job posting, you need to prepare to respond. Get together any information that you will need for you to begin writing. Your writing should be specific, precise, and directly to the point. You should not neglect to make it readable. State specifically what you have done and why you are qualified for this position. Use examples. Write with a clear 'voice' without the use of acronyms or any special language that's used in the position that you are applying for. Remember that your KSA will be graded and the person who gets the highest grade is going to get the job.
After you've read and understood the description, you need a brainstorm on any possible experience you have that would make you the best choice for this position. Think back to all of your experience that you've had in the work field. Any possible experience or training that can help you in this position should be written down when you're in the brainstorming phase.
Once you finish the brainstorming phase, you should have a large amount of information accumulated. Now it's time to analyze that data. Re-read the posted job description and go through your experience to find the best examples to fill the requirements.
Now it is time to do the actual KSA writing. You need to show how the information that you have gathered pertains to the position you are applying for. Back up your assertion that you are the best person for the job with as many facts as you can. While this 'assignment' is going to be graded, it's not your writing style that is being graded. Your ability to do the job is what is being looked at. Don't get in a hurry and leave out important information.
After you have written a response to the KSA, put it away for a short period of time (a few hours or possibly even overnight) and then return to edit. This is when you go over and make sure that you have not made any mistakes. Make sure that you have not left out important information. Remove any excess information. Make sure that your KSA is clear and concise. Make sure that the information that's contained in the KSA answers why you would be the best person for the position they have open.
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