What’s the difference between role profiles and job profiles?

February 6, 2017 Lorraine McKay

Competency profiles are the foundation on which all competency-based activities are built, because they identify the specific competencies and proficiency levels that define success. This makes competencies concrete and tangible in the workplace, and gives a common language for describing successful performance, whether in the context of hiring, performance management, career progression, or any other HR activity.

But if you are new to competencies, jumping in to select the specific competencies for each job in your organization can seem like a daunting task. If this is the case for you, you might want to look at role profiles as an alternative to job-specific ones.

What are role profiles?

A role profile describes the competencies needed for success in a general role. Think about an Administrator and the key competencies needed for success. Communication, Information Gathering and Processing, and Planning and Organizing are all critical.

The duties associated with “Administrator” are quite general. You can have Administrators in Finance, Administration, Procurement, and so on. But despite this, the key competencies of Communication, Information Gathering and Processing, and Planning and Organizing are all required.

How do role profiles differ from job profiles? 

For us, the difference is one of specificity. Referring again to the Administrator role, “Job Profiles” exist for Secretary, Bookkeeper, Purchasing, and HR Administrative Assistant. While each of these jobs require some specialized competencies, like those related to Finance, HR and Supply Chain Management, the key core competencies remain the same regardless of function.

When would I use a Role Profile versus a Job Profile?

Some organizations want to keep things simple and introduce competencies on a limited basis. They don’t need technical competencies nor do they need to identify the competencies for each unique job. Instead, a few key competencies for each general role are sufficient. Here are some of the reasons why a company would prefer to use a role profile vs a job profile.

Role Profile

Job Profile

  •  Starting out with competencies and want to keep things simple.


  •  Want to emphasize the soft skills, or general competencies rather than the technical.


  • Want to use the role profiles on an ad hoc basis as needed.
  • The organization has experience with core or leadership competencies, and the next step is to add functional and job specific ones.
  • Technical, leadership and non-technical competencies are all important to jobs for a full understanding of what is required for success.
  • Functional and technical competencies are important for career development and building capability for the next job level.  Job profiles provide the richness of information needed.

Start Using Profiles Today!


About the Author

Lorraine McKay

Lorraine has over 30 years of experience as an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and HR Professional. She is well known for her experience developing competency-based programs and tools and has been instrumental in building HRSG’s competency management methodology, certification program, and tools.

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