Legal Law

How to Write Your KSA Answers to Get That Government Job

Today’s volatile economic environment and expected layoffs mean many people will be looking for a new job. For many of you, a US government job can offer security, great benefits, and interesting work. But keep in mind: the competition for these jobs is intense and you have to stand out from all the other applicants to get a placement; that’s where 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’ve registered online, you’ll find that job openings for specific positions often require you to fill out a detailed job description. 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, typically in about a page of written content. 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 0-20 that reflects how well your knowledge, skills, and abilities match the complexity, impact, variety, circumstances, and interactions that characterize the job. you are 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 generally factual or procedural in nature that, if applied, makes proper job performance possible. A body of information applied directly to the performance of a function.

skills Statements refer to the skillful manual, verbal, or mental manipulation of data or things. Skills can be easily 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 the ability to calculate using decimals; skill in editing transposed numbers, etc.

Ability The statements refer to the ability to perform an observable activity at the present time. This means that the skills have been evidenced through activities or behaviors that are similar to those required on the job, for example, the ability to plan and organize work. Skills are different from aptitudes. The abilities are only the potential to perform the activity.

How should you answer the KSA questions to improve your chances of getting 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 tasks. You should pay close attention to the keywords used in the job description and use those words to describe your knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Generally, 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 possess 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.” While your work experience did not give you the opportunity to manage a project, your experience managing a PTA fundraiser for a year, although unpaid, could legitimately be claimed as “experience managing of a project”. It is up to you to describe the knowledge you gained in a way that translates to the job you are applying for.

Think about skills 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. Pull the skill requirements from the job posting and offer evidence that you possess those skills. For example, the Pharmacy Assistant position requires knowledge demonstrated by certified training and skills Gained from previous experience delivering medications and working with customers.

How to write an effective KSA response

By answering the KSA questions, you are making claims about your knowledge, skills, and abilities. You must then back up those claims with credible evidence. You should develop your KSA answers 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 do’s and don’ts of writing effective KSA responses.

Describe your knowledge, skills, and abilities in terms that directly relate to the job using keywords you pull from the job posting. Then “test” 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 requirements of the job at the beginning of the appropriate KSA response or at the beginning of a paragraph. For example: If the job requires an accounting degree, you can first clearly say, “I completed my accounting degree at XYZ University” should; then go on to describe your experience in accounting tasks.

Numbers can be your friend when it comes to providing evidence to your reviewers. Instead of saying, “I wrote reports” consider saying, “I prepared monthly reports on six field tests with a lead time of two days”.

Knowledge and skills can also be demonstrated by using an overview of your previous responsibilities with examples of specific tasks, describing training or certifications 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 versus passive voice. You should say: “I analyzed data…” not “The data was analyzed”. You can find an excellent list of action verbs in 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 compliance with key job requirements
  • Be action and achievement oriented
  • be well written with NO TYPES and good sentence construction. It’s a good idea to have someone else review his responses before you submit them because sometimes it’s hard 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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