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Professional skills and abilities: tips for improvement

Abilities and skills are two dimensions that come into play in people’s competencies in the workplace. Both can be trained...
2 August 2022

Abilities and skills are two dimensions that come into play in people’s competencies in the workplace. Both can be trained and improved, in the same way, that enhancing them in teams guarantees success and talent retention.

Considering their importance, we will talk in this article about what they consist of and how they can be improved.

Skills and abilities: definitions

Abilities and skills tend to be confused and yet are not the same thing, although it is true that their combination gives rise to professional competencies that combine acquired and innate skills.

What relates them is that both can be modulated if they are focused on a professional objective resulting in talent development.

Before addressing some tips on how you can enhance them, it is necessary to define them.

What are abilities?

Abilities are specific capabilities of people that enable them to learn a task or job position.

We can think of them as the potential capacities to perform or acquire by learning the knowledge, skills, or specific responses that facilitate the adjustment to specific job responsibilities.

What are skills?

Skills are the capabilities to perform the operations of the job with ease, accuracy, and efficiency that require the contribution of perceptual processes, cognitive decisions, motor control, and even social processes.

They are learned relatively quickly and aim to achieve a goal by being task-specific.

Skills are differentiated into soft skills and hard skills.

Skills and abilities in the professional area

Soft skills

Soft skills are personal qualities related to emotional and social intelligence learned through practice and enhanced by dealing with and towards others.

Examples include communication skills, teamwork, creativity, thoroughness, integrity, the ability to work under pressure, a sense of organization, etc.

Developing these types of skills can help you even in your private life. For example, management skills can be instrumental in managing family budgets.

Hard skills

Hard skills are what you have learned to do – formally or informally – and improve by attending training or internships.

On the other hand, previously mentioned soft skills are learned through practice and error, requiring a more extended period to modulate them.

We speak of hard skills regarding competence in a foreign language, the ability to use software or a machine, make sales, write a summary, etc.

Differences between skills and abilities

Experts state that abilities are cognitive, while skills are physical and motor in nature. This explains why the term skill has often been translated into English as dexterity.

We point out three fundamental differences between abilities and skills:

  1. Aptitudes have a permanent character, while skills are adaptable.
  2. Talents are innate, not learned, while skills are acquired.
  3. Abilities are inferred from behavior, while skills are observable.

That said, when we speak of competencies, we are talking about a combination of knowledge, skills, and behaviors that help to deal with different situations not programmed in advance and in a successful way, that is, that produce effectiveness within a precise context.

Skills and abilities definitions

4 tips to improve professional skills and abilities

We share with you four recommendations for acquiring new knowledge, putting it into action, and transforming it into experiences that generate results at work:

  1. Experience.
  2. Professional education or training.
  3. Self-training and online training.
  4. Aptitude tests and online and offline skills.

We will go into the details below to help you develop your talent and that of your teams.

Experience

Professional experience allows us to constantly improve our skills by repeating different tasks assigned to us as we face new situations.

One way to make the most of your experience and your teams is to conduct periodic evaluations.

Once a project is completed, identify what went well, the obstacles, and what you can improve in the future.

Professional development or training

Training helps improve the skills needed to perform a task correctly or best fit a particular position’s demands.

Many companies are providing professional training to their employees in their commitment to value.

Tips for improving professional skills and abilities

Self-training and online training

A complementary option is self-training through readings, online courses, etc.

Online training is exciting and convenient as long as it is of high quality and has a secure environment with monitoring systems such as proctoring.

Online and offline tests of skills and abilities

Skills can be learned or developed in our lives as behavioral habits.

Knowing the development of each of our skills, we can decide which skills require us to work on them, and for this, professional skills tests are good tools.

Skills tests vary according to the ability to be measured. That is to say, there are tests to evaluate cognitive, vocational, or musical skills, so tests should not mix different abilities.

Competency tests

Finally, you can access basic skills tests, generic skills tests, or specific job skills tests through different methods such as videotaping or DISC profile tests that analyze four factors: decisiveness, influence, serenity, or compliance.

Thanks to these tests, you may even discover skills you didn’t know you had.

Our proctoring products offer secure environments that respect users’ privacy and allow you to observe and measure different aspects of tests, training, or coaching to enhance the abilities and skills of your employees.

Request your free demo, and we will explain all the solutions we can offer you.

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