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What Are KSAs?

What Are KSAs?

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

KSAs are often a critical part of the Federal job application process, but most Federal job applicants are often confused about exactly what a KSA is. The information provided below provides a brief overview of KSAs and their part in the Federal hiring process.


What does KSA mean?

KSA” is an abbreviation for knowledge, skills, and abilities. KSAs are attributes required to perform a job and which are generally demonstrated through qualifying experience, education, or training. Knowledge is a body of information applied directly to the performance of a function. Skill is a present, observable competence to perform a learned psychomotor act. Ability is present competence to perform an observable behavior or a behavior that results in an observable product.


How are KSAs used?

KSAs are used as part of a rating process to determine who are best qualified for the position. Generally, those applicants who rate highest are referred to the person who will make the selection.


Where do KSA’s come from?

The KSA’s for each position are identified in job analysis. A personnel specialist and someone who knows the job well, called a subject matter expert (SME), develop the KSA’s. SME’s for this process are usually either someone in the job, someone who has just been promoted out of the job, or the immediate (first level) supervisor of the job.


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Aren’t there more KSA’s needed for a job than are typically on the vacancy announcement?

Possibly. However, to be used in rating applicants, KSA’s must meet certain criteria. They must be linked to the important duties of the job. They must be needed when the person starts the job, and not easily learned on the job. They must be likely to distinguish between high and barely acceptable performers. Finally, they must be measurable.


How much do KSA’s count in the selection process?

KSA’s count for a great deal. Applicants are rated on the KSA’s. Generally, only the highest rated appllicants are referred to the manager who makes the selection. As a result, it is important that aplicants are exceptionally thorough when completing KSA statements. KSA statements should be specific, indicate the extent of knowledge or ability necessary to perform tasks or experience which is being described and, if appropriate, include the amount of time spent on the task or experience.


How do KSA statements help me?

The KSA statements give you a chance to target your application to the position. They allow you to organize information from your application in a way that highlights your qualifications for the specific position. The KSA statements make the rater’s job easier and help make sure you get all the credit you deserve. They also highlight the most important elements of the position for the selecting official.


How should I write about my awards in my KSA statements?

If you have received an award directly related to a KSA include that in the KSA statement.


How should I write about my training?

Include relevant current training or formal education as evidence that you have a KSA. Generally, real-world experience or training plus experience count for more than training alone.


Will I be marked down if I don’t turn in KSA statements?

Although you don’t receive credit just for turning them in, the likelihood that you will receive the maximum credit possible in the rating process without a KSA statement is very slim. In addition, you should be aware that the KSA statement is not used to measure your writing ability.


Is there a form for completing KSA’s?

For some specific jobs, there will be a form you can complete, sometimes called “Job Based Questionnaires.”

We have included in this resource a general form you may use. Normally, you will just provide your statements on plain bond paper.


What format is preferred?

Usually, you should organize your statements by KSA. Have one-half to one-page per KSA in paragraph format. Put your name, announcement number, and if you have a common name, your social security number at the top of each page. You can be creative in this–

There is usually no required format.


What should be included in a KSA statement?

For each KSA, list the duties, awards, accomplishments, training, education and volunteer work you have that shows you have the particular KSA.


How much should I write for each KSA?

For most KSA’s, one-half to one page per KSA is enough. However, if you feel that more than one page is required to describe your possession of a particular KSA, you should feel free to use additional pages.



Further reading…

Federal Hiring 101: Learn What to Expect from Self-Assessments

Resume and KSA Tips


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