Tips to write effective KSA responses

by fred 3. February 2010

Applying for a Federal job is totally different than applying for any other type of job. When a Federal job opening is posted, they may ask candidates to submit a narrative statement known as a KSA in addition to a resume.

KSA stands for knowledge, skills, and abilities, and should be written in a personal, yet professional style to convey your particular knowledge, skills and abilities to the person(s) who receive your application. There are four basic steps to writing the perfect KSA response:

1. Review the Job opening. Make sure to pay attention to any details. Also make sure that you understand the announcement before you begin writing your essays otherwise you will not be able to give the proper information to the recruiter.

2. Brainstorming. This is when you come up with your abilities that relate to the announcement. Writing good KSA statements requires that you relate ANY experience that you have in relation to the position you seek. This includes actual work experience, knowledge acquired, or skills that you learned through non-work related activities. Don’t limit yourself to your experience here; as long as it’s relevant, it doesn’t have to be work related. For example, if the KSA question asks for management skills, it does not matter if you were a manager previously or if you simply managed a scout posse. They are relevant and should be listed.

3. Break it down. Now that you found all of your abilities, you need to examine them and reflect on how they were used on the job. The questions you should ask yourself are: use of job skills, supervision (if any), affect of your work on other people, difficulty of your job, rules you follow, and so on When answering these questions, you simply need to focus on who, what, where, when, why, and how of they relate to what you need. These answers will eventually become your very own KSA.

4. Writing the KSA. When you finally write your KSA statements, you need to be very clear and clear in your statements. You need to showcase, in your writing, how the skills, abilities, and knowledge you have relate to the vacancy announcement. Do not assume that the person reading your KSA will be able to make the connections; instead, make the connection for them.

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