What does KSAO stand for ?

KSAO is an acronym for Knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics. They are extremely helpful for recruiting personnel. KSAOs describe the skills and attributes required for a particular position in an organization.

Knowledge refers to a formally organized body of information that usually consists of facts and procedures. For instance, knowledge of engines could be considered for the role of a maintenance engineer. It is advisable to further explain the knowledge in detail such as the types of engines you have worked on. It is also necessary that you explain how you used this knowledge in your work environment.

Skills involve the abilities related to the verbal, manual and mental processing of data and information. For instance, proficiency in the use of computers can be shown as a skill when applying for an office automation position. However, you must explain the types of computers you have operated and list the different types of programs you have used and how they were applied in your specific work environment.

Ability refers to the capacity to effectively engage in an activity. For instance, the skill in using diagnostic instruments could be shown as ability when applying for the post of a technician in a hospital. It is essential to list the types of diagnostic instruments you have used and elaborate on the different assignments you have finished using the mentioned instruments.

Other characteristics include attributes that do not fall under knowledge, skills, ability but are nevertheless vital for a position such as politeness, courteousness and good listening skills.

The development of KSAOs involves detailed analysis of the functions and the needs of the position. The first step is to identify the attributes that are crucial to the successful performance of the functions related to the job. From these attributes, the KSAOs are identified and the rating system is developed.

KSAOs are used to shortlist “suitable candidates” from the “unsuitable” candidates. The KSAOs are generally mentioned in the announcement for the vacancy in terms of “specialized experience” requirements. The evaluation is done against each KSAOs to see if the candidate is qualified for the job.

The applications are reviewed by a subject matter expert(SME) who rates the applicants with a numerical rating. The candidates who have been shortlisted are forwarded to the next phase of the selection process.

When writing the resume, it is necessary to specifically address the KSAOs that have been mentioned in the vacancy announcement. In some positions, KSAOs can be listed as “selective factors” that are specific requirements pertaining to that position. In this case, the experience should be addressed for each selective factor.

There are some tips to write your own KSAO responses: 
- Read the vacancy announcement thoroughly. 
- Ensure that all the KSAOs have appropriate responses. 
- Ensure that the KSAOs are written in the first person 
- Highlight any achievements for which you were responsible 
- Review your responses and ask a close friend to read over your responses, if possible