Summary Definition: Prerequisite Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities that job candidates must possess to be successful in a role.

What are KSAs?

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) are the minimum qualifications a job applicant must possess to perform a role successfully. They’re often listed on job announcements and provide a baseline for screening applicants from a pool of many candidates.

Applicants may be encouraged to submit a KSA supplement with their resumes to describe in more detail how they meet the requirements. Employers may also use KSAs to write objective job descriptions and set measurable performance criteria.

Key Takeaways

  • Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) are qualifications on job announcements that recruits need to have to be successful in the role.
  • KSAs represent the core characteristics of what a candidate knows (knowledge), can do (skills), and naturally excels at (abilities).
  • KSA statements submitted by candidates will use specific dates, metrics, and contextual details to craft a brief narrative that demonstrates they have the identified qualification.

In This Article

In This Article

  1. What are KSAs?
  2. KSA Elements
  3. Creating KSA Statements

KSA Elements


Knowledge refers to the body of information applicants need to perform the role’s required tasks. This can include factual knowledge (e.g., product or service types), industrial knowledge (e.g., competitor information or industry terms), and procedural knowledge (e.g., operating software or equipment).

Basically, it’s what the candidate knows — all their deep understanding of concepts, principles, facts, and procedures that are relevant to the job at hand.


Skills are the practical, observable capabilities that the candidate has accumulated through training and experience. These can be further categorized into hard and soft skills:

  • Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities related to a job, like programming or analysis.
  • Soft skills are interpersonal and communication skills, like teambuilding and leadership.

Simply put, these are the practical, job-related things a candidate must be able to do if hired.


Abilities are the natural, innate capabilities and talents the candidate has. The distinction here is, unlike skills, abilities aren’t acquired from training or experience, but from the candidate’s inherent aptitude(s).

In other words, it's what the candidate is naturally good at, both physically (e.g., strength or dexterity) and cognitively (e.g., critical thinking or problem-solving).

Creating KSA Statements

KSAs will often appear in job descriptions as a series of statements that identify a qualification the candidate needs, such as leadership experience or being able to meet tight deadlines.

In response, candidates can submit a supplement with their resumes that explains how they fit or have achieved each qualification in the past. These explanations typically describe a prior situation or task the candidate faced, what they did to resolve or complete it, and the results that occurred due to their action(s).

KSA Example

KSA statements from candidates will usually have specific dates, quantifiable metrics, and contextual details to give a complete, albeit brief, story on how the candidate has the identified qualifications.  

Job Announcement KSA Candidate Supplement KSA
Can manage multiple projects and deadlines simultaneously

In my current role as project manager, I’ve overseen multiple marketing campaigns simultaneously every year. Within the last 12 months, this included our newest product launch, an industry award we received, and our annual event for prospective clients.

In these projects, I identified key benchmarks, set due dates, tracked progress, and reported weekly updates to leadership.

As a result, sales for our new product exceeded our revenue goals by 25%, we saw a 15% increase in our web traffic regarding our award and gained more than 200 new clients.

Related Glossary Terms


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