How to write effective KSA answers

Applying for a Government job is completely different than applying for a civilian job. When a Federal job opening is posted, they usually require applicants to submit a narrative statement known as a KSA in addition to a Federal resume.

KSA stands for knowledge, skills, and abilities, and should be written in a personal, yet professional demeanor to showcase your particular knowledge, skills and abilities to the person(s) who receive your application. There are 4 basic steps to creating the perfect KSA:

1. Review the Job opening. Be sure to pay attention to any details. Also be certain that you understand the announcement before you start preparing your answers otherwise you will not be able to provide the right information to the hiring manager.

2. Brainstorm. This is when you come up with your abilities related to the listing. Writing an effective KSA response requires that you relate ANY experience that you have in relation to the position you seek. This includes actual work experience, knowledge acquired, or skills that you learned through non-work related activities. Don’t limit yourself to your experience here; as long as it is relevant, the experience doesn’t have to be work related. For example, if the KSA question asks for management skills, it doesn’t matter if you worked as a manager previously or if you simply managed a youth group at church. Both experiences are relevant and should be listed.

3. Break it down. Now that you have a list of all of your skills, you need to examine them and reflect on how they were used in your jobs. The questions you should ask yourself are: use of job skills, supervision (if any), affect of your work on other people, difficulty of your job, rules you follow, and so on When answering these KSA points, you simply need to focus on who, what, where, when, why, and how of they relate to the answers you need. These answers will eventually become your KSA answers.

4. Writing the KSA answers. When you finally write your KSA statements, you need to be very clear and clear in your statements. You need to demonstrate, in your writing, how the skills, abilities, and knowledge you have relate to the vacancy announcement. Do not assume that the person reading your KSA will be able to make the connections; instead, make the connection for them.

During the KSA review, your essays will be graded on content, not style, so as long as you are getting your message across, it it is not important what your style is. KSA responses are generally limited to less than a page; longer responses will not impress recruiters. Avoid complicated sentences and technical jargon. If someone cannot get what you’re saying, they probably won’t hire you, no matter how good you are.

Writing a KSA answer can seem complicated and overwhelming. Especially since you need to prepare a new essay for every job you apply to. As long as you take your time and follow these guidelines, you should have no trouble producing a great KSA response.


Gail Esparan