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Competence: Definition, Tips & Examples In Professional Life

Competence – the key to success! What is Competence? How do you develop your professional competence? What types are there in professional life? Here you will find answers and tips to develop your skills. Examples show how it is demonstrated in different areas.

Competence – What is it actually?

If you try to define the term competence with a concrete definition, you will quickly reach your limits. From this point of view, competence is more than just the ability to practice a certain profession. Competent is someone who can understand complex issues and find solutions with a methodical and self-organized approach. Competent people are often also leaders. But not because they can always prove that they have the right qualifications, but because they do their job with responsibility and expertise.

Competence is a conglomerate of knowledge, experience and the ability to implement. In terms of professional life, competent employees are those who are able to use the knowledge they have acquired in their tasks in a targeted manner and thus independently demonstrate their skills in their areas of work.

Competence does not necessarily equate to intellect. Someone who is competent in a field does not necessarily have to have a comprehensive education. As a rule, however, he has extensive expertise in his field. Competence says nothing about general education.

What is the Difference between Competencies and Qualifications?

Qualifications are acquired over a certain period of time and are usually confirmed in writing, for example with a report, certificate or diploma. They state that someone has been trained in a certain area and qualified accordingly. However, that does not mean that someone who is qualified is therefore equally competent in a specialist area. Because competence is much more than a qualification. It arises from a talent that is expanded or manifested with a qualification and ultimately supplemented with experience and know-how.

What makes Skills so important?

An employee who knows how to put their knowledge and skills into practice and how to use them to achieve company goals can be described as competent.

Synonyms and Uses in everyday professional life

Synonyms of the term competence are: ability, talent, ability, wealth of knowledge, expertise, skill, vision, expertise.

In the workplace, competence is often equated with responsibility or authority. For example, the general manager has the authority to conclude contracts for his company.

Also Read: A Professional Future In Banking And Finance

The most important key Competencies in the job

In the job, certain key competencies are important. These are made up of hard skills and soft skills.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are the facts that can be found in job references, references, certificates, recommendations and documents. For example, an applicant has a professional qualification and has acquired additional skills over the course of his professional life by participating in seminars or further training. Hard skills represent part of an employee’s core competence. They are required for someone to be deployed in an area.

Soft Skills

However, hard skills alone are not enough to qualify someone for a job. The soft skills are the skills that are inherent in the person and largely determine whether someone is competent to do the job. First and foremost, social skills are considered one of the key skills. But the ability to implement and the methodical approach also determine whether we assess and describe someone as competent. Ideally, soft skills and hard skills complement each other.

Facts and background knowledge are important in order to create a basis for constructive and structured work. They are also the breeding ground for the development of other skills that are now indispensable in professional life. A successful company consists of employees who do not stick to their level of knowledge and are willing to keep learning. Every employee should contribute their particular strengths to the work process of a company. Employers who want to be successful use the resources of their employees and promote them accordingly, for example with training, further education and career advancement opportunities.

The special meaning of Leadership Competence

Managers do not automatically have the competence to lead a team. Anyone with leadership skills is quick-witted, decisive, courageous, innovative, acts in the interests of the company, thinks analytically and economically, works effectively and can delegate. Managers with leadership skills do not necessarily solve problems and tasks themselves, but they know how to use the potential of their employees and integrate them into the company process. This means that competences must also be recognized and promoted so that they can be used in a targeted manner.

This is how Competencies can be Categorized

Competences are often broken down into:

  • social skills: can you interact well with other people? Are you empathetic, reliable and a team player? How is your resilience ?
  • Communicative competence: How is your written expression? Can you convince and inspire others? Do you show respect to others? Do you work customer-oriented?
  • Methodological competence: How do you approach a problem? Do you work in a structured and independent manner? Can you come up with clever strategies? How do you use your expertise?
  • Expertise: What qualifications and experience do you have? How ambitious are you with this in your job? Are you ready to deepen your expertise?
  • personal competence: are you open to criticism? How do you generally work together with others? How is your comprehension?
  • Action Competence: How well do you assert yourself? Do you tackle problems aggressively or do you prefer to wait and see? Do you like taking responsibility?

When can i call myself competent?

Competent is who,

  • Possesses skills that are absolutely necessary for the performance of certain tasks
  • Can handle complex orders with a methodical approach
  • Quickly find his way in difficult situations
  • Is not immediately overwhelmed with new tasks
  • Practices a structured approach to more complicated tasks
  • Complements and expands their existing skills through willingness to learn or further develops them through independent action
  • Carries out his assigned activities independently and can solve problems with foresight and social sensitivity
  • Is self-reflective and can act in a solution-oriented manner
  • Can interact empathetically , assertively and helpfully with colleagues, supervisors and business partners
  • Is cognitively able to classify processes and to separate and filter the essential from the unimportant
  • Be able to assert oneself and still approach others with the necessary respect
  • Is an expert in his field
  • Who masters the daily work routine and at the same time can cope with the non-everyday challenges in his work process

How can i acquire new skills and improve my Existing Skills?

As already mentioned, competence also has a lot to do with willingness to learn. The motivation to further and further educate oneself, to broaden one’s own horizons and to be open to change is decisive for this. It’s not enough to just have a talent for something. It is merely the basis for gaining and developing the ability to act. Progress is everywhere and omnipresent.

Who Rests, Rusts

Expertise can only be learned to a certain extent. To be considered an expert in a field, you have to do more. Above all, you must remain curious, interested, set goals and not rest on your laurels for too long. Yesterday’s successes are quickly forgotten in a fast-paced society like ours. So stay active, look for challenges and don’t stay in one place for too long. Don’t belittle yourself as an idiot, be the learner and inquisitive employee that employers want you to be. This is the only way to expand your portfolio of skills and strengthen the trust of your colleagues.


In summary, competence is everything that characterizes a capable employee. Competence does not just mean being able to show a qualification on paper. Rather, life and professional experience, empathy, implementation skills, comprehension , values, general education, specialist knowledge and decision-making are decisive in order to conceptually classify and define competence.

Also Read: Your Ability To Relate Opens or Closes Professional Doors For You

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