Core Competencies of Young Adult

A core competency is defined as the unique characteristic or capability that an individual possesses. In the professional world, an 18 year old would want to be familiar with their core competencies so that they are able to get the competitive advantage in the marketplace. Identifying and having knowledge of your core competencies helps to deliver value to customers along with making a significant contribution towards overall growth - not for yourself but the company you choose to work with too. But core competencies are not a single quality or feature that you possess. They are actually the total fundamental knowledge you have along with the ability or expertise in a specific subject area or skill set.

Common Core Competencies that Individuals Have

These are some of the most common core competencies that individuals have, you can identify yours on a general basis.
  • Personal management
  • Communication
  • Managing information
  • Research and analysis
  • Project and task management
  • Teamwork
  • Commitment to quality
  • Professional behavior
  • Social responsibility
  • Continuous learning
  • Managing change
  • Solving problems and making decisions
  • Managing politics and influencing others
  • Taking risks and innovating
  • Setting vision and strategy
  • Managing the work
  • Enhancing business skills and knowledge
  • Understanding and navigating the organization

How to identify your core competencies?

Easier said than done, identifying your core competencies that are going to shape your professional career is not that difficult.


One of the first steps that you have to take here is brainstorm and identify your inherent positive character traits. You can consult with friends and family members on the same or even consult with a counselor or career psychologist to help you in the same. What are the areas that your passion lies in and are you really good at them. For instance, passionate about football or soccer is great - but if you have the business acumen to think about the next greatest start-up, it is you who would be deciding which of these core competencies you want to choose. So sit down and make a list of all thee thinks that are would influence your decision-making points.

Scan your competencies

Once you are done with this process the next step is to screen and then assess these on the basis of counseling, tests and even application in the real world. Remember that how relevant your competencies are in the business arena makes a lot of difference. When scanning your competencies, ask yourself these questions-

When and how were you able to demonstrate this competency?

One of the first things that you should do here is plan out or make a list of everyday examples where you were able to put these competences in to action. Think of something as simple as social responsibility. If you are given the duty of taking care of your little brother/ sister or even baby-sit - are you able to actually do this task with enthusiasm. Something like serving food to the homeless on weekends - how good are you with this? If you can add up a few things like this on the list, then may be you have what it takes to manage people well.

Rank yourself on a scale of 1-5

If you think that you know your area of mastery for any of these competencies, then the next task would be assessing yourself and giving yourself a rank from 1-5. Simply put, 1-3 are poor scores and then anything above 4 would be a developing competency and 5 means that you are an expert. Now, you are going to be ranking yourself so cheating is not really going to help you out. You have to be true about ranking yourself and ensure that you are being honest. Else, you will just be deceiving yourself. And even if you score low, the good thing would be that you can analyze your competency and develop the same.

Think or analysis on how you chose your competency rank?

The next factor here would be how you chose your competency rank and decided to give yourself that score. Was it because others appreciated you on the same that made you realize that you can do well on this aspect? If you think that you are the master of something, how would you judge yourself on the same? Self-analysis is perhaps the best way to undermine these scores because you are testing your real potential. For instance, if your core competency lies in teamwork then are you being a mentor and guide to your team members or are you a team player. Do you feel that your team members are happy working with you?

Identifying gaps in your mastery of the competency

In case you have given yourself poorer scores or something that needs to be developed on, then what were the reasons for it? Knowing these reasons behind the lapse of good scores can help you to maximize your potential. Remember that if you want to improve and develop a particular core competency then you have to identify and work on these gaps.

Addressing the competency gaps

Addressing the gaps that you find in these competencies is essential for your overall professional development plan for improving upon your mastery of this competency. When you address these gaps you should ask yourself how you plan on heading to the next step. Does it include reading more or interning to gain experience and develop these skills. Would you want to pursue some vocation or educational course that will help you in the same? On the whole, you would have to set yourself some gentle reminders for incorporating this competency into your personal and leadership activities.

When you are unable to identify your core competencies

Don’t worry. It happens. You are about to kick start a new career and are just around 18 so you are not expected to be an ace in managing and analyzing these areas that well. So if the above steps are leaving you confused or you are not sure that you have not been able to identify them, the best way would be to go ahead with a psychological or counseling test. Doing so will give you a professional and analytical perspective into what your core competencies are. Often, confusion, peer pressure, relationship stress, etc. prove to be a hindrance in determining the same. So don’t worry.

When you want to develop an average competency

Often, individuals may not really ace at a particular core competency or find that they are the jack of many trades but master of none. In such cases, the idea is to find and shortlist some competencies that you seem to be passionate about or have a knack for. Then you should make a list of the ones that are most likely to give you the best career kick and then develop them. Your motto is to be able to develop and work to build them. For those who are already working, you can also make a list of the contribution you have made toward the company and then focus on them. Try and focus on clearing down time so that you can pinpoint on core competences.

Developing your core competencies

To develop any kind of core competency, you need a core strategy. The idea is that you should be able to put in your best efforts to enhance these core skills in the long run. Remember that you might not really have the best of the skills or the resources to do particular task, but developing a core strategy is something that can help you in getting beyond the usual. For instance, if you are looking into getting into the service or the personal relations area of management, you would need to emphasize and work on more than just management skills. You have to be well spoken and handle crisis situations. In this reference, think of what you would have done at home? If there was a squabble with your friends or with your siblings were you good at working things out or chose to pick the safer route. You can take courses on management, communication, etc. So here your inherent strategy would be education to help you get a firmer grasp over a particular skill.
Your core strategy doesn’t have to be around education all the time. In fact, there is a good chance that if you implement simple changes in your life and incorporate or make these competencies more of a practice or habit, you are likely to succeed at the same. So here’s an action plan in developing your core strategies

Facilitation of discussions and brainstorming with a management team - In this case, your management team can be your parents, friends and other family members who are perhaps more aware of your core competencies as compared to yourself. If not them, then you can ask your teacher or counselor at school to help out. The first phase of this session will help you get a list of ideas that you can use as core strategies. But what you choose finally is your personal decision.

The next step here would be finding new growth opportunities in contiguous markets. If you are about to enter college and still have some time around, do some internships and get summer jobs. Getting first hand experience of the market is perhaps the best way to actually work out a strategy. Practical experience does go a long way as compared to just working on theory. This you can also get first-hand exposure to things you may want to like staring your own business, venturing into sales or other similar professions that enhance your competency.

Often, some people are really unable to finalize or come to the point of focusing on one core competency. On a personal basis it is really difficult to come up with truly unique core competences, especially when you have a limited set of time. But working on the above strategies and developing unique core competences. For instance, you may find that you have to choose between a career that you are passionate about - and something that you really good at but are not passionate. So in this case, your core competencies are in your favor - but which one would you chose to develop is a dilemma.

Not experiencing success

Some people tend to have a knack for a particular profession or competency. But the problem is that you don’t really say yourself succeeding in the same. It could be a fading market or there are job restrictions or not enough jobs and professions available in that particular area. So you would have to make do with things. So either you venture into another field that is satisfying monetarily or you pick a path that you know would not really be lucrative in the long run. In this case, it makes more sense into developing core competences that are relevant, real and sustainable in the long run.

Not doing well in some competencies

If you are lucky enough to have more than one core competency, the chances are that you are probably not excellent in all of them. Your math and analytic skills might be awesome but you are not that good a presenter or are unable to give shape to a particular idea that comes to your mind. In such cases, the next best thing to do would be learns and educates yourself with techniques that help you in overcoming this issue. And even if you are not able to attain complete success in all of your core competencies it doesn’t matter. At this young 18 ages, you will get plenty of chances to learn and move up the ladder.

On the whole, it is very easy to know your core competencies because it comes by instinct more than anything else. But will these competencies help you move up the career graph in the long run is a question that you need to work on. And if you feel that it will, then developing these competencies using modes of education, practice and dedication can gradually take you there. Remember that at the end of the day, it is these competencies that will give you the competitive advantage in the long run. So market yourself on those strengths.
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