Are you career ready?

You may be surprised to learn that college graduates with the same degree may not exhibit the same level of career readiness. Besides the educational background required for your chosen profession, there are several competencies you should be able to demonstrate as well.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) identified 7 key competencies for career readiness. Along with NACE’s definition for each, the following are some examples for how to demonstrate the competency in the real world.

Of course, the skills can be practiced in many ways depending on your industry and job function.


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.”


  • Researcher: Be able to interpret results of a scientific study in order to create a solution to a problem.
  • Corporate Manager: Create a presentation to summarize what your department has accomplished over the year.
  • Teacher: Creatively present a new topic to the class to engage and interest students.


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.”


  • Learning and Development Specialist: Write and deliver a training course to educate employees about how to perform a job function.
  • Nurse: Gather information from a patient about their health history and symptoms, accurately record it in the patient’s electronic health record, and communicate it all to the physician.
  • Social Worker: Write an assessment documenting your client’s educational, mental health, occupational, or other needs.


For more tips on how to advance in your career, check out 

7 Skills You Need That Aren’t on the Job Description 


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.”


  • Data Programmer: Collaborate with a team of internal partners and stakeholders to develop a new piece of software for your customers.
  • Human Resource Manager: Work with supervisors to address employee concerns regarding their compensation.
  • Nonprofit Director: Lead a team to create a fundraising campaign to meet the needs of your organization.


4. Information Technology Application

“Select and use appropriate technology to accomplish a given task. The individual is also able to apply computing skills to solve problems.”


  • Nurse: Know how to use your medical facility’s electronic health record system to capture patient health histories.
  • College Faculty Member: Provide students with virtual office hours using a platform like Google Hangouts or your school’s learning management system.
  • Therapist: Implement an online scheduling system for your patients and office staff.


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.”


  • Business Manager: Effectively lead and develop a team of employees to not only perform their job duties but also further their careers.
  • Police Dispatcher: Organize a volunteer event for your precinct to benefit your local community.


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 mistakes.”


  • Nurse: Know and follow HIPAA regulations to protect your patients’ health privacy.
  • Social Worker: Respect clients’ rights and objectives; collaborate on strategies to achieve their goals without personal bias.


7. Career Management

“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.”


  • Staff Accountant: 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 Investigator: Attend networking events to meet others and identify positions or companies of interest for your next career move.
  • Registered Nurse: Enroll in continuing education to further your career and pursue a specialty practice such as nursing informatics or care coordination.


Regardless of your profession or area of study, these 7 career readiness competencies are crucial to your professional success.


The Capella University Career Center counselors, resources, and tools help students and alumni manage their careers at every stage and move toward the careers they want.

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