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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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What Are Those KSAs Anyway???
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Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) are the requirements needed to perform a job and are demonstrated through qualifying experience, education, or training.

Each vacancy announcement will list the KSAs required in terms of "specialized experience" or "selective factor" requirements. In determining if you qualify for a position, your education and experience will be evaluated against the KSAs for each position. Because each position is different, the requirements will also be different.

When you apply for Federal positions, it is important for you to show that you meet the "specialized experience" and "selective factor" requirements for the position in your application package. You can do this by either including the information in your basic application or by addressing these requirements separate from your application.

If you choose to address your KSAs separately, you should keep your responses brief and to the point. You need to relate your responses to the requirements of the job for which you are applying and should give examples that clearly demonstrate how your knowledge, skills, and abilities meet the requirements of the position.

If you choose to rely on your basic application rather than write separate responses to the KSAs, you should be sure that your basic application covers all the KSAs so that the reviewers don't have to read between the lines to connect your basic application to the KSAs. As an applicant, it is your responsibility to show how your education and experience meet the requirements for positions.

Below are a few examples of how you should respond to the requirements of a position:

Knowledge of biological and plant sciences.
While in college pursuing my Bachelor's Degree in biology, I took courses in (give specific examples which show you have knowledge of biological and plant sciences). At the same time, I gained additional knowledge of biological and plant sciences in my position at .... In this job I was responsible for (give specific examples). Performing these assignments gave me an opportunity to gain knowledge of (list some examples of knowledges you gained).

Skill in collecting, analyzing, and summarizing data using computer software.
In my current position, I have used the following software packages (list examples). Using these software packages, I have been able to complete assignments such as (give some examples of projects worked on, what you did, and what the outcome was).

Ability to use a variety of laboratory instruments.
While in college pursuing my degree in biological science, I was required to complete lab classes where I learned how to use equipment such as (give examples - spectrophotometer, gas chromatograph, etc.) to conduct analyses of biological samples. In my current position, I use the following equipment on a regular and recurring basis to conduct analyses - (give examples).

Last Modified: 11/4/2003