8 skills to demonstrate career readiness

Agust 22, 2023

Reading time: 3–4 minutes

Are you career-ready?

You’ve graduated. Now the question is: where are you on your career path?

Not all college graduates who’ve earned the same degree may have the same career readiness in their chosen field.

Besides the educational background required for your profession, there are several competencies you should be able to demonstrate as well.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified 8 key competencies for career readiness. See NACE’s definitions below, along with some examples of demonstrating each competency in the real world.

The examples of positions given here are meant to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

As you review the skills listed below, think about how you can apply them as you develop opportunities in your field.

1. Critical thinking/problem solving

“Identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information.”


  • Research analysis. Interpret results of a scientific study in order to create a solution to a problem.
  • Management. Summarize accomplishments, set goals and priorities for upcoming year.
  • Education. Creatively present a new topic to a class to engage and interest students.

2. Communication

“Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization.”


  • Education. Write and deliver a training course to educate employees about performing a job function.
  • Health care. Gather information from a patient about their health history and symptoms, accurately record it in the patient’s electronic health record and communicate this to the provider, professional athletic coach or personal trainer.
  • Social work. Employ technology to help generate assessments and treatment plans, then communicate them with your clients.

3. Teamwork

“Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.”


  • Software development. Collaborate with a team of internal partners and stakeholders to develop a new piece of software for customers.
  • HR management. Work with supervisors to address employee concerns regarding their compensation.
  • Nonprofit sector. Lead a team to create a fundraising campaign to meet the needs of an organization.

4. Technology

“Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks and accomplish goals.”


  • Health care. Use a medical facility’s electronic health record system to capture patient health histories.
  • Education. Offer students virtual office hours using an online meeting platform or a school’s learning management system.
  • Mental health. Implement an online scheduling system for patients and office staff.

5. Leadership

“Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals.”


  • Management. Lead and develop a team of employees to not only perform their job duties but also further their careers.
  • Education. Work with colleagues to share common goals and opportunities to improve a school.

6. Professionalism

“Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.”


  • Health care. Know and follow laws and regulations to protect patients’ health privacy.
  • Social work. Respect clients’ rights and objectives; collaborate on strategies to achieve their goals without personal bias.

7. Career and self-development

“Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization.”


  • Accounting. Request an informational interview with a senior-level auditor to learn more about their position and what it takes to reach that level.
  • Digital forensics. Attend networking events to meet others and identify positions or companies of interest.
  • Health care. Enroll in continuing education to enhance your skills and pursue a specialty practice such as nursing informatics or care coordination.

8. Equity and inclusion

“Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures and policies of racism.”


  • Health care. Complete diversity training and recognize and overcome disparities in the medical treatment of marginalized communities.
  • Management. Consciously build representative teams that include diverse backgrounds, demographics, experiences and ways of thinking.
  • Education. Develop awareness of systemic racism, inequities and biases and how they affect students’ ability to learn at their grade level; pay attention to and advocate for those who need additional resources. 

Regardless of your position or area of study, these 8 career readiness competencies can help you in the pursuit of your professional goals.

The Capella University Career Development Center support team, resources and tools help students and alumni on every step of their career path. Learn more about college and career readiness options and how to plan for your career.


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