What are competencies, why are they so important nowadays?  How are competencies used in Human Resources and how can individuals use them to their advantage?

Business Magazine - An introduction to competencies


Read the Text. Next go to each Task and do the activity.

What are competencies and why are they important?

  1. Some years ago when executives and managers talked about the type of employees they wanted to contract for their businesses they spoke of skills and qualifications. These words are still used but have been overshadowed by the term competencies. Competencies are a concept taken on board by Human Resource departments to measure a person’s appropriateness for a particular job.
  2. In simple terms a competency is a tool that an individual can use in order to demonstrate a high standard of performance. Competencies are characteristics that we use to achieve success. These characteristics or traits can include things like knowledge, aspects of leadership, self-esteem, skills or relationship building. There are a lot of competencies but they are usually divided into groups. Most organisations recognise two main groups and then have numerous sub groups which competencies can be further divided into.

    There has been a lot written about competencies. It is easy to see how people can become easily confused by what a competency actually is. It is also essential that people in the world of business have a clear understanding of what different competencies are and, in particular, which competencies are of interest to them – either as an individual interested in self-development – or as an employer looking for the best candidate for a job.
  3. Competencies can be divided into two distinct types; technical competencies (sometimes referred to as functional) and personal competencies. As the name suggests, technical competencies are those which are related to the skills and knowledge that are essential in order for a person to do a particular job appropriately. An example of a technical competency for a secretary might be: “Word processing: able to word process a text at the rate of 80 words per minute with no mistakes.”  Personal competencies are not linked to any particular function. They include characteristics that we use together with our technical competencies in order to do our work well. An example of a personal competency is: “Interpersonal Sensitivity: Demonstrates respect for the opinions of others, even when not in agreement.”
  4. As you can see from the examples above there is a particular way of expressing a competency. First the competency is given a title; for example “word processing”. Then a brief indicator or explanation is given as an example of the person’s aptitude in that competency; for example “able to word process a text at the rate of 80 words per minute with no mistakes.”
  5. Competencies are probably here to stay so it is worth thinking about your own competencies and trying to categorise them; first into the two sub-categories mentioned above and then into a more detailed list.



the articl and the exercices are very important. Thank you so much

I'm a health care provider and I don't have any experience with these kind of thinks. When I applied for work it wasn't necessary to write about your skills and competencies. I found this text very useful for me and I will enrich my CV.

This is so true. Many jobs require candidates to have these competencies these days. It seems organisations value more on personal traits than they used to do. I personally regard it a good thing, because it promotes certain moral standards, and hails the importance of these standards by endorsing them with practical values. It can be anticipated that people are driven towards these standards in order to achieve more in there professional life, and consider more carefully whether they want to step over the brink of their conscience.

Thank You British Council

That's good. Thanks for british council and learn english team)

This is very helpful

hi every one

can you explain please this word"conceptualise",i saw it task 2(Vocabulary: make nouns from these verbs.)

so the answer is "concept" it's understandable, but like this verb"conceptualise" i never seen before,how we use it.?

best wishes

Hello abdijamo,

The best place to get information on particular words and phrases is our dictionaries link. You'll find it on the right of this page headed 'Cambridge Dictionaries Online'. Just type the word into the window and click 'Look it up!' to get a definition, examples, grammatical and phonological information. It's a great tool!

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I think the article and the exercises are very useful. I learnt something new about difference between the concept of skills and the concept of competencies. And the third exercise is great to improve your verbs and nouns vocabulary.