What are the key professional competencies to possess ?

04 Jan 2022


Some professional competencies are highly sought after by employers. It is very important to know them, so you can make your profile as attractive as possible to recruiters. We reveal all of the key competencies that will help you stand out on the job market.

What is a professional competency?

Professional competencies are abilities bringing together soft and hard skills. These abilities enable an employee to competently manage tasks assigned to them as part of their role. Professional competencies are often listed at the end of a curriculum vitae. Whether they are acquired in your personal or work life, all competencies that are relevant to the profession you wish to exercise must be mentioned, as they can be put to use.

The various types of professional competencies

There are several types of professional competencies. They may be developed through professional training, your work experience (in which case, in France, they can be highlighted through the VAE  scheme, which stands for “Validation d'Acquis d'Expérience”), or your personal experiences. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between them.

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This relates to competencies learned over the course of your education pathway, at school, for example. For example, you may have acquired managerial competencies at a business or management school. Abilities developed over the course of a short or long training course are also part of knowledge. These professional competencies are highly sought after by French employers, particularly when they are confirmed by a diploma (validation, qualification, certification, etc.) or training certificate, or are learned at a training centre or high-profile school.


Hard skills

These are the technical competencies that are essential for a specific profession. These competencies are not the same as knowledge. They are not theoretical, but practical, and are developed through your various work experiences. For example, we can consider the ability to manage a group and lead it through change to be a hard skill, rather than knowledge. Expertise in IT or the ability to use a foreign language in a work environment are also hard skills. There is a multitude of hard skills, which vary from one field of activity to the next.


Soft skills

These skills are innate or developed through personal experience. They are directly linked to your personality and your workplace behaviour. They are acquired personality traits. Soft skills are very important during interviews, as these skills are increasingly taken into consideration by recruiters. Non-learned soft skills, such as an ability to manage conflict, can be honed.

Which professional competencies are essential?

Many other types of knowledge and skills are sought in professional settings. Some of them are even essential to exercise a particular profession. Here are a few examples:

  • Critical thinking: having a strong analytical ability and pragmatic mindset is a big asset in today’s work environments. Your ability to put forward well-thought-out and constructive arguments will stand you in good stead in your job search.
  • Problem-solving: measuring risks, taking initiatives and decisions, and formulating assumptions are an important part of the world of work. These abilities are crucial if you are looking for a role with responsibilities.
  • Analytical ability: this involves taking a neutral stance on a situation to find the right solution./li>
  • Adaptability: recruiters are always looking for people who can work independently and adapt smoothly to changes (such as new roles, policies, teams, processes and work tools).
  • Organisation: being well-organised is important to be able to work efficiently. This competency is important for employers, as it says a lot about your ability to manage your time or a project, for example.
  • Team spirit: being able to work alone is good, but being able to work with others is even better. Your ability to communicate and work as part of a team can help make the difference in an interview and your day-to-day work.
  • Communication skills: your speaking and writing abilities, as well as the way you express yourself within a group, or with new people, are often observed during interviews.
  • Stress management: certain positions require you to keep a cool head in the face of stressful work situations.
  • Emotional intelligence, empathy: these personality traits determine how you get along with others. Generally speaking, employers look to recruit people who are empathetic, attentive to others and respectful. These competencies are required in most professional sectors.
  • Ability to recognise competencies: this is essential for recruiters, HR managers and team managers.
  • Teaching ability: this is sought after for positions that involve helping a person or group develop their skills and abilities.

You are now familiar with the key professional competencies. Learning how to highlight them is essential in order to get your career off to a good start. We recommend setting aside a dedicated section for them in your CV to win over recruiters. Remain pragmatic and never overrate your competencies. Be specific when talking about competencies, and don’t hesitate to replace them with a complete experience. For example, it is better to write ‘Manager of a team of ten people’ than simply ‘Management’. This type of information is more convincing and concrete in the eyes of future employers.

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