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Career competencies 

Developing skills for future career success

One of the many terms that you'll likely come across during your working life is "career competency." Career competencies are the skills required to successfully perform a job. 

Until now, “career readiness” has been hard to define, which made it difficult for leaders in higher education, workforce development, and public policy to work together effectively to ensure the career readiness of today’s graduates. 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), through a task force of select professionals,  identified eight competencies associated with career readiness.


Top 8 Career Competencies:

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Oral/Written Communications

Teamwork/ Collaboration

Digital Technology

Leadership Skills

Professionalism/Work Ethic

Career Management/Self-Awareness

Global/Intercultural Fluency



What's Your Plan?

Work with your alumni career counselor and develop a realistic plan to improve your skill-set. The   Individual Development Plan (IDP)   is designed for alumni to clarify and create a career development action plan. Use this resource to help stay on track as you build and improve skills employers are seeking. This plan is meant to be revisited and flexible while you accomplish your SMART goals. Small steps and greater awareness make a big difference!

Develop Career Competencies

1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.

2. Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.

3. Teamwork/Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure, and can negotiate and manage conflict.

4. Digital Technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.

5. Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.

6. Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.

7. Career Management/Self-Awareness: Identify and articulate one's skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.

Each topic below is designed to explain its importance to your career development, provide more in-depth information, offer questions to reflect on and further apply in your life, and suggest additional resources to enhance learning.

8. Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates, openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.


**Sources include the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE), Michigan State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Hart Research Associates, CareerBuilder, US News & World Report, World Future Society, American Society for Training & Development and the U.S. Department of Labor, Mindtools.