So you found a federal government job that piques your interest. Though you’ve written your federal resume, you have yet to tackle the daunting task of writing your KSAs.
The purpose of a KSA is to give you an opportunity to elaborate on your Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities as they pertain to the desired job. While you can approach this task as simply another to-do item before submitting your application, KSAs can truly make or break your chances of getting hired. Approaching your KSAs as an opportunity to win the job will put you in the necessary mindset to write outstanding statements.
Where do you begin? Right where you started. Revisit the job listing that grabbed your eye and carefully read over it.
KSA Example 1 – Management and Program Analyst
Let’s pretend we are applying for the job of Management and Program Analyst. The job description lists the qualities the ideal candidate must possess. Identify the ones that most closely align with your work experience by cross-referencing your resume. For the sample statements within this article we’re using a fictitious resume.
As you read the samples, pay attention to the overlap between the job requirement and the way in which the statement addresses each facet of this responsibility, directly tying in the applicant’s experience. As you’re thinking about your own statements, start drawing the similarities between your current job and the job you’re applying for.
The ideal Management and Program Analyst has knowledge of a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods for analysis to evaluate and optimize human capital resources in order to achieve Agency and organizational goals.
Let’s take a look what a successful statement to this skill looks like:
Since 2005 I have been a Human Resources Specialist for Amer Technology. In this current position I balance several responsibilities that require the implementation of various qualitative and quantitative methods. As an HR Specialist, I measure work performance by assessing pre-existing employee records, keeping track of absenteeism, as well as through discussion, observation, and interviews with employees, prospective employees, and upper management. This blend of qualitative and quantitative methodology allows me to render comprehensive assessments of our human capital resources. I have vast knowledge of the asset value classifications of education, training, skills, health, and values such as loyalty and punctuality.
I synthesize these various data points to create fact sheets, brochures, training materials and information binders for upper management. As my employer’s mission is to provide scientific services to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I create additional informational binders for distribution for the use of Congressional briefings and health subcommittee meetings. All of the information I gather and present is carefully organized in Branch databases. I utilize Word and Excel to assess the significance of the data as I prepare it for distribution. I also employ the Integrated Contracts Expert (ICE) system in order to prepare procurement requests according to government specifications.
For the last six years I have exceeded productivity goals by double digit margins for each of the three key metrics utilized by my current employer. My efficiency and vast experience with quantitative and qualitative methods directly in relation with human capital resources, as well as my MBA from Troy University, seamlessly concurs with this key responsibility of the Management and Program Analyst role.
The structure of a good KSA statement flows as follows:
- Mention your current job (or most relevant job to the responsibility), combine verbiage as written in the job description with the job you currently hold, preferably mention it directly more than once.
- Illustrate in detail the exact tasks you perform that require the knowledge the job description calls for.
Expand on this knowledge. What else in your current or previous positions overlaps with the job responsibility? What technological tools are you familiar with?
If you can flex programming skills or fluency in computer languages, or other extremely valuable and rare skills that aren’t directly mentioned in the job description, do so in the middle paragraph (unless you’re applying for an IT job, where this should be front and center). By placing it in the middle, this signals to the person reading your application that you are an interesting and talented candidate, as you don’t mention these rare skills immediately (immediate mention constitutes a hard sell of the skill, but doesn’t directly address the job responsibility, which can turn off application readers).
Close your statement by mentioning any type of awards, degrees, certifications, performance recognition, or other tangible decorations that indicate that your hard work has been recognized by others. It functions almost like a notary’s stamp—it verifies that you are legitimate, professional, and are an extraordinary candidate.
KSA Example 2 – Management and Program Analyst
Let’s look at one more sample.
Another responsibility of a Management and Program Analyst is the ability to manage multiple ongoing projects and work activities in accordance with milestones and goals. This second example highlights this skillset:
My current workplace operates in a matrix management structure. At Amer Technology, it is critical that I am able to serve and handle various projects from multiple teams simultaneously. As an HR Specialist I am often pulled in many different directions—ranging from director’s meetings, applicant interviews and recruitment, providing data presentations to various teams, and accommodating the intake of employee complaints as well as identifying and mobilizing appropriate recourse. Evidently, I am a diligent multi-tasker and understand how to prioritize, expedite, and optimize multiple internal processes in order to reach all project milestones and goals.
Alongside the aforementioned, I was appointed as the Database Administrator for the Human Resources department six months after hire. In addition to my primary role, I manage the configuration, migration, performance monitoring, security, and troubleshooting of our databases and lend my expertise to other departments on a regular basis. Alongside the management of simultaneous projects in my primary role as an HR Specialist, I juggle further projects to safeguard and optimize our database.
Even though I am delegated a high volume of tasks, I consistently perform above expectations, having received recognition from upper management on several occasions. My knowledge of data management in combination with my exceptional communication and interpersonal skills make me an essential team player and a strong candidate for the Management and Program Analyst role.
Hopefully these two KSA samples have allowed you to identify the flow of an outstanding KSA statement. In simple terms: it should go from good, to better, to best.
Don’t give away your most valuable experience and skills until the second or third paragraph. Use the first paragraph to illustrate the overlap between the job responsibility and your direct experience, then continue to strengthen the overlap by noting your most remarkable accomplishments. Stick to the point, continuously return to the job listing, and make sure that your answers are relevant, clear, and display your talents comprehensively.