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What Is a Competency Profile?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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A competency profile is a list of the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform a job well. Types of skills listed in a competency profile depends on the job and the work environment. Generally, employers make competency profiles either to evaluate candidates for a job or determine where an employee needs to improve performance to meet the needs of the position. Competency profiles are usually used as a part of competency-based human resources (HR) management. They are similar to job descriptions, but they provide a means to evaluate how the employee's skill set and job performance measure up to the requirements.

Profiles of this type may include skills like typing, filing, and personal hygiene. They can also require degrees and certifications that guarantee the candidate has the education needed for the position. Construction jobs often require certifications in operating certain types of machinery, like forklifts, which can help ensure a worker's proficiency and safety when operating heavy or expensive equipment.

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As a company's needs for an employment position change, so can the competency profile for the position. If an administrative assistant works in an office that acquires a computer system, learning to run the computer system becomes part of the job description for the position, and thus part of the competency profile for the job. Changing a competency profile can also include removing obsolete competency requirements that no longer apply to the position. In many office positions, fax machine operation would be an obsolete and unnecessary skill requirement, while some offices still use fax machines on a daily basis.

Human resources management is the department of a business that manages the activity of employees. They are generally responsible for hiring, training, and firing employees, and are often responsible for communicating messages between business management and the employees. A competency profile is usually created by a member of HR as a means of assessing how well employees are doing their jobs, usually to evaluate their work and train them to do better. Employees who do not meet necessary competencies for a job may be asked to learn new skills or get certified in specific skills as a condition of continued employment in that position.

A competency profile can also help an HR worker improve operations by moving employees into jobs to which their skills are better suited. This can mean moving a particularly talented employee into a position in which she can better use her skills. It can also mean removing an employee from a skilled position if it becomes clear that he cannot gain the skills needed to remain employed in that position. Removing an employee is usually a last resort, after corrective training has been ineffective in raising the employee's skills to the levels specified on the competency profile.

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