Though valued by employers, a college degree in and of itself does not automatically lead to a good job. Employers want assurance that you can help them solve problems and reach their goals. They want to know that you have developed and demonstrated competencies considered essential in the workplace.
Based on extensive research among employers, the National Association of Colleges and Employers identified and defined eight competencies that determine career-readiness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Which of the eight competencies have you demonstrated? If you need help thinking about this, list the different roles you’ve had (volunteer, student organization member, athlete, employee, etc.). For each, list problems you’ve solved, decisions you’ve had to make, group activities in which you’ve actively participated, and ways you’ve communicated to individuals and groups. Which competencies do you need to develop or strengthen?
Career-readiness competencies can be developed through part-time jobs, volunteer activities, campus involvement, academic projects, internships, cooperative education, and studying abroad. To learn more about experiential learning opportunities and developing career-readiness competencies, contact the Career Center at (205) 348-5848.
Career-readiness competencies courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.