Difference between Skill and Competency

In the Human Resource perspective, skills and competencies are often used interchangeably. They are often considered similar to the other and put into a similar context. However, skills and competencies have a few differences that are, if not significant, noticeable. It can be said that skills are a subset of competencies. Competency, as the literal meaning of the term, considers all the abilities, skills, and personality traits of a person. Competencies are behavioural, whereas skills only test the raw abilities of a person. 

Let us find out some of the key differences between Skills and Competencies under different heads.


There have been different attempts to define what skills are and various definitions have emerged to point out the meaning of skills distinctively. It is defined as the capability or aptitude that is obtained or created through preparing or experience. It is the capacity, originating from one’s information, practice, inclination, and so forth., to accomplish something great. A capacity and limit obtained through conscious, precise, and supported exertion to easily and adaptively complete complex exercises or employment capacities, including thoughts (psychological abilities), things (specialized aptitudes), as well as individuals (relational aptitudes) can be successfully described as a skill set. 

Skill is the educated ability to do pre-decided outcomes and an educated capacity to achieve the result one needs, with the most extreme conviction and effectiveness. It is the capability or adroitness that is procured or created through preparing or experience. So, a Skill is something Learned to be able to carry out one or more job functions.

Different sources and different definitions also attempt to pin-point ta exact definition of competencies to set it notably apart from skills. It is defined as a group of related capacities, duties, information, and abilities that empower an individual (or an association) to act adequately in an occupation or circumstance. Competencies mean abilities or knowledge that lead to overall execution. 

Quantifiable aptitudes, skills, and character qualities that distinguish effective workers against characterized jobs inside an association. A competency is something other than just information and skills. It includes the capacity to fulfill complex needs by drawing on and assembling psychosocial assets (counting abilities and perspectives) in a specific setting. It is a quantifiable example of information, aptitudes, capacities, practices, and different attributes that an individual needs to perform work jobs or word related capacities effectively. Competencies determine the “how” (rather than the what) of performing work errands or what the individual needs to carry out the responsibility effectively. 

Competencies employ skills, but it is not just limited to skills. It also uses knowledge and action. They incorporate capacities and practices only as information that is principal to the utilization of a potential skill-set.


Skills have a universal approach, per se. It means that a specific individual with a particular skill is universally the same. The skills remain constant irrespective of place, situation, or type of employment. For example, if a person has a technical skill of Digital Marketing, his skill can and will be listed everywhere the same provided he/she has the proper certification.

However, competencies are contextual. This means that just because a person has a particular skill does not mean that he/she is competent in the same. Competencies include skill, knowledge as well as the ability. Hence a person with skill has to analytically and logically apply it in a correct situation, then only will he/she prove to be competent. Taking the above example, a skilled employee in Digital Marketing must know and have the ability to apply that knowledge in his term of requirement; otherwise, he/she would not be considered as competent.


Skills are generally transferable across various job roles in an organization. This means that an employee with a specific skill can be moved across different jobs that demand that specific skill-set that the person possesses. Hence, it is more dynamic. Skills are not aspirational. These are need-based and absolute.

Competencies, on the other hand, are extremely aspirational and job-specific. When moved across various jobs, a person’s skill set will remain the same. However, his/her competencies will vary to a great extent. A person with skill will be put in a position of work. When the person employs that skill into execution to perform the job efficiently, his/her competency will be proved. 


It can be so regarded that skills and competencies have a cause and effect relationship. Skills are what is the initial requirement for a person to perform a particular job. Without the required skills, a person is not eligible to be employed in a job that demands it.

However, competencies are how the job is performed. With the effective implementation of skills, knowledge, and ability, when the job is completed, and the result is obtained, which determines the competency.


Skills are a narrower concept comprising technical or non-technical knowledge that is required for a job.

Competency is much broader that is more result-oriented by employing skills, knowledge, and abilities.


Digital marketing, coding, language proficiency, software proficiency, computer programming are some of the things that can be defined as skills.

Whereas professionalism, time-management, analytical abilities, excellent communication are some of the competencies, to name a few. 

Difference between Skill and Competency

Bases Skills




Meaning Learned abilities required for a job. Skills, employed with knowledge and ability leading to the success or failure of a job.


Approach Universal Contextual
Relationship Cause Effect
Concept Narrower concept Broader concept
Example Digital marketing, python, wielding, programming. Analytical approach, professionalism, time-management.



Skills and competencies might not be interchangeable but not inseparable. However, skills can exist without competencies. But, competencies cannot exist without skills. Competency is a superset of which skill is a component. That is why it is essential to acquire skills. It is also important to know how to apply them. Employers are not looking for just skilled employees; they are looking for competent ones.

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