What is competence?
What is competence
Competence is what you need to reach results. Competence is created everywhere. It is necessary for yourself and others that you can describe your own characteristics, strengths, knowledge and skills in concrete terms. You have skills, but how do you present them? By identifying your personal competence, you strengthen your ability to build a study path and career. It will also increase your motivation to graduate.
The student’s career skills include developing methods for recognising moments of personal achievement, and means for documenting and evaluating how one’s personal competence develops and becomes visible. Self-knowledge – consisting of your passions, personality, attitudes, values, networks – lays the groundwork for this. The employer is interested in the same matters in you.
IDENTIFYING YOUR OWN COMPETENCE
Do you recognise your own strengths, characteristics, or factors that drive or prevent your progress? Do you have competence if others do not know about it? Which factors distinguish you from others? How do others describe you? What changes have you noticed in your actions? A strong professional profile is evidence of competence and part of job search skills. Where do you want your work to be visible, who do you wish will see it?
Identifying competence can be simple: Describe a situation and a challenge it brought up > what did you do and how did you act > what was the outcome. Finally, analyse to yourself what you learned from the process and then describe it in your own words. In summary, we can say that when you talk about your competence, you talk about how you act in practical situations and what you really know.
Try to describe the competence you have accumulated through your studies and elsewhere by giving concrete examples. Think back to the contents of your studies or work and to what things and situations, in your opinion, generated new competence. Write, describe and elaborate on this using examples and active terminology. Write concrete notes or make some other presentation of this for yourself. These notes will help you compile your own competence profile, from which you can identify the broad scope of your competence and any special skills.
MAKING A PORTFOLIO OF YOUR COMPETENCE
Record your competence and gather it together. First, make it visible to yourself and then to others, as you choose. Such a collection is often called a portfolio. A portfolio is a book of ideas, a folder of merits or a place of storage where you can quickly find and observe your competence, knowledge, skills and work. It contains experiences, work samples, project descriptions, development work and networks you have accumulated along your life. The portfolio may be a personal and closed platform of learning experiences and achievements, i.e. your own archive in one place. The portfolio may also be a shared or open platform for employers, supervisors, assessors and sponsors. In other words, the portfolio is a means of communication and a proof of your competence. The portfolio builds your professional brand in terms of content and visual expression.
Start building your portfolio immediately at the beginning of your studies, preferably on an electronic and easily editable platform. First, create a portfolio folder for yourself and use it for compiling any documents and images you create during your studies. List the most important exercises and projects you have been involved in and consider what kind of documentation you have accumulated from them. Give headings and describe the accumulated material from perspectives that are of interest to employers.
In the portfolio, you also bring up the competence you have accumulated in teams or through group work. Describe what you did and who you worked for as a team and what kind of outputs your work produced. It is especially important to consider which aspects of your work would convince your employer of your competence. Remember to also record information about your work placement periods and leisure activities outside your studies, participation in competitions or voluntary activities. They can all describe your competence and be worth mentioning. Keep on building your portfolio all the time.
The portfolio is never ready. Step by step, make the goals you set for it increasingly specific and adapt it according to your needs and situation.
COMPETENCE REQUIREMENTS IN YOUR FIELD
Competence requirements (i.e. competencies) consist of general employability and sector-specific knowledge and skills. Find the competencies in your field. You can ask your employer, profile teacher or study advisor about them, or search them on the internet. Place the requirements in the map on the areas of competence and consider your competence in relation to the requirements.
Employers expect to find a trainee or expert precisely suited to each vacancy they have. The level of substance competence in relation to the position sought is often a clear criterion used. When the candidates have a sufficient level of competence, the selection is made on the basis of the employee personality. When applying for an expert position, you should emphasise your views of the field and your experiences of successful management of tasks within the competence areas related to the position. Experience is important no matter where it has been gained.
REQUIREMENTS OF THE WORLD OF WORK
According to the Work 2040 scenario, work will maintain its significance: work is important. However, the work will become fragmented: it is broken down between several employers and different modes of working. Working hours, terms of employment will become individualised. If they so wish, employers can offer the best experts “good deals”. The significance of work is increasingly created in network-like interaction with others. The work requires so-called metaskills: The ability to learn new things, to manage your use of time, to recognise what is essential and to think critically (Koponen, 2017. Työ2040, 11).
Employers emphasise not only professional competence but good interaction, communication and cooperation skills, while employees emphasise strong IT and digital skills as well as language and internationalisation skills. Responsibility, flexibility, readiness for change and multi-competence are features and modes of operation that often become emphasised in competence lists (Association for Finnish Work/Talouselämä, 12 June 2017). The core skills that become highlighted in expert work include problem solving and critical thinking, negotiation, and service orientation, as well as creativity, people management and coordination of cooperation (World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Report 2016).
NEED FOR SPECIAL SUPPORT
When you have questions about a disability, illness or any other issue that complicates learning and increases the need for support, feel free to contact HAMK’s student welfare services during your studies.
Many organisations also have experts in employment and study issues, who provide information and support when you are considering, for example, the potential impacts of an illness on studies or on finding employment. The organisations have peer support groups, projects promoting employment and compiled information on, for example, the impact of an illness on employment.