Tacit vs. Explicit Skills

In education, we often worry about what our students know versus what we know they should, know, but can’t pull out of them. We call any knowledge we can assess “explicit knowledge” and anything the student knows, but we can’t assess “tacit knowledge”.

In business, we face the same thing, within ourselves and our employees. When we create a resume to showcase our skills, we have this wide range of skills that are harder to demonstrate. These are our “tacit skills”. These are the skills that we may not be aware we have, or they may be soft skills that we don’t know how to present. These are the skills that often end up coming out during a behavioral interview, training, or the adjustment period after starting the job.

The skills that we can demonstrate are our “explicit skills”. Our schooling, our training, our accomplishments in previous jobs. These are the skills interviewers and recruiters look for because they can quantify them, but in the back of their mind, they also have some tacit skills in place that they are looking for.

What does this mean for you, the job seeker? It means that while you should present your explicit skills to best showcase what you’re capable of, you should also think about those skills you can’t show off so easily and then practice your interview in that light. Become comfortable with those aspects of yourself to help present you in your entirety to a prospective employer.


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