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How to Write Your KSA Responses to Get That Government Job

The current volatile economic environment and expected layoffs mean that many people will be looking for a new job. For many of you, a job in the US government can offer security, great benefits, and interesting work. But keep in mind: the competition for these jobs is intense and you must stand out from all other applicants to get a placement; That’s where the KSA becomes a key opportunity you can use to get that government job.

What is a KSA?

The US Office of Personnel Management maintains a searchable database, called USAJOBS, that lists government job openings. Once you have registered online, you will find that specific position openings often require completing a detailed description of your job. Knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) in addition to your resume.

Each job that requires a KSA will have specific KSA questions for you to answer usually on a written content page. This is not an optional task. You must do it and you must do it well. Each KSA response is rated by human resources staff on a scale of 0 to 20 that reflects how closely your knowledge, skills, and abilities match the complexity, impact, variety, circumstances, and interactions that characterize the work you are undertaking. is requesting. KSAs are often the deciding factor in your evaluation for US government employment, so what are KSAs? According to the CDC help page on KSA:

Knowledge Statements refer to an organized body of information, usually factual or procedural in nature that, if applied, enables adequate performance on the job. A body of information applied directly to the performance of a function.

Ability The statements refer to the competent manual, verbal or mental manipulation of data or things. Skills can easily be measured by a performance test in which the quantity and quality of performance are assessed, usually within a set time limit. Examples of competent handling of things are the ability to type or the ability to operate a vehicle. Examples of competent data manipulation are skill in calculating using decimals; skill in editing transposed numbers, etc.

Capacity Statements refer to the power to perform an observable activity in the present moment. This means that the skills have been evidenced through activities or behaviors similar to those required at work, for example, the ability to plan and organize work. Skills are different from aptitudes. Skills are just the potential to do the activity.

How should you answer the KSA questions to improve your chances of landing a government job?

The most effective answers to KSA questions reflect your understanding of the job requirements based on a detailed analysis of the job description and typical task. You should pay particular attention to the keywords that are used in the job description and use those words to describe your knowledge, skills and abilities.

Usually, knowledge it is more abstract than skills and therefore can be generalized to many different tasks and responsibilities. Knowledge comes from academic and life experiences including, but not limited to, education and employment. Any knowledge you have that is relevant to the job you are seeking is something to include in your KSA response.

It is a good idea to brainstorm for yourself and with others what “knowledge” you should claim because you can demonstrate it through your written responses. For example, let’s say the position requires “being able to organize a project.” Although his work experience did not provide him with the opportunity to manage a project, his experience in managing PTA fundraising for a year, while an unpaid activity, could legitimately be considered as “experience in managing a project. “. It is up to you to describe the knowledge you gained in a way that translates into the job you are applying for.

Think about abilities as testable capabilities, that is, understanding how a spreadsheet program can help manage a budget is knowledge; Being able to create an Excel spreadsheet to track expenses is a skill. Extract the skill requirements from the job posting and provide evidence that you possess those skills. For example, the pharmacy assistant position requires knowledge demonstrated through certified training and abilities gained from previous experience in handling medications and working with clients.

How to write an effective KSA response

By answering KSA questions, you are making claims about your knowledge, skills, and abilities. You then need to back up those claims with credible evidence. You should develop your KSA responses with two key variables in mind: the relevance of the content and the quality of the presentation. The National Forest Service provides an excellent tutorial on the dos and don’ts of writing effective responses to the KSA.

Describe your knowledge, skills, and abilities in terms that directly relate to the job using keywords that you glean from the job posting. Then “show” with specific examples what you can do because of what you did in the past and the context in which you did it. Put your compliance with the key job requirements at the beginning of the appropriate KSA response or at the beginning of a paragraph. For example: if the job requires an accounting degree, the first place can clearly say, “I completed my accounting degree at XYZ University” has to; then continue by describing your experience in accounting tasks.

Numbers can be your friend when it comes to providing proof to your reviewers. Instead of saying, “I wrote reports” consider saying, “I produced monthly reports on six field trials with a two-day lead time”.

Knowledge and skills can also be demonstrated by using an overview of your previous responsibilities with examples of specific tasks, describing the training or certifications you received, and citing awards or recognition for achievement. Reviewers like to see action words in your KSA responses and that requires you to write in an active voice rather than a passive voice. You should say: “I analyzed data …” no “The data was analyzed”. You can find a great list of action verbs at Job Skills – Power verbs.

In conclusion, your KSA responses should:

  • Be concise
  • Be relevant
  • Be specific
  • Have quantitative examples
  • Make it easy for reviewers to find your agreement with the key job requirements.
  • Be action and achievement oriented
  • Be well written with WITHOUT TYPES and good sentence construction. It is a good idea to have someone else review your responses before submitting because it is sometimes difficult to see your own mistakes.

Remember, KSA responses separate those who are qualified for a job from those who are the majority qualified.

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