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knowledge, skills and strengths:

what's the difference?


It’s often difficult to articulate everything positive that you bring to your career. There’s a lot of jargon around strengths, competencies, skills, knowledge, expertise, abilities, talents, etc – not to mention the fact that many of us feel uncomfortable blowing our own trumpets!

But, you have to do it [FIRST NAME GOES HERE]. Whether you are creating a CV or preparing for an interview, it’s vital a potential employer understands exactly who you are and what you can do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a job move, career transition or a promotion, this is your time to shine. There’s no room for modesty.

To make sure you have covered all the bases, focus on the following key areas:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Strengths

In each area, make a list (checking that it’s also something you enjoy!), and focus on showcasing these.

Knowledge, Skills and Strengths


Simply put, knowledge is the “stuff you know”. You might have acquired it at school or university or learned it on the job. It could also be ‘stuff’ that you’ve learned elsewhere.

For example, my coaching knowledge is what I learned during my coaching training – both practical and academic. I know how to coach, and I have learned various aspects of psychology and leadership models. I also happen to have knowledge of HR and recruitment processes from earlier in my career.

In addition, I possess an in-depth knowledge of British birds which I’ve yet to put to good use in my career (acquired as a child from my ornithologist parents and very occasionally useful at the pub quiz).

What “stuff” do you know through your own education and on the job acquisition?


A skill is a special ability or technique that you’ve acquired through special training and quite likely have practised that skill.

For me, the skills I use at work are things like attentive and active listening, Socratic questioning, facilitation, teaching, writing, sales and negotiation.

Outside of work, I have skills in speaking foreign languages as well as playing piano and guitar – basically what I did for my A-levels / degree and have continued to hone over the years.

What skills do you have that you’ve acquired through training and practice?


Finally, strengths are the things that are more innate within us. Some might call these attributes or talents. Whilst they are by their nature innate, they can also be practised and improved.

I have strengths in making people feel at ease, being aware of other people’s emotions, articulating myself, coming up with creative ideas and spinning plates ??. These things have been with me since childhood even though I’ve improved and honed them over the years…

What strengths do you have that are innate within you?

What to do now

1. Once you’ve curated your three lists, gather all those wonderfully positive words together somewhere visible.

2. Now, dig out your CV and / or LinkedIn profile. Have you fully represented all your knowledge, skills and strengths or are some of them hiding under your bushel? If the latter, then please take them out, dust them off and get them into your CV / LinkedIn profile by following points 3 - 5.

3. Next, I want you to evidence your knowledge, skills and strengths (KSSs). List 3 – 5 personal achievements and mind-map which of your KSSs you were using.

4. For each achievement, write a short paragraph, showcasing your KSSs that you can put in your CV or LinkedIn profile.

5. You can then extrapolate this into a longer narrative that you would be able to talk through in an interview.

If you come up with any creative ways to map out your achievements and KSSs, I’d love to hear about them. Take a photo and send it over ??

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