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  • The Behaviors That Help Students Demonstrate Their Career Readiness

    BETHLEHEM, PA—How do college students prove they have developed the top attributes employers seek in the candidates they hire for full-time jobs?

    To help college students and those who work with and recruit them understand what the skills employers seek “look like,” the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has partnered with industry leader SkillSurvey to identify, validate, and connect sample behaviors to NACE’s Career Readiness Competencies.

    The competencies are a set of skills and attributes college students can develop to help launch successful professional careers. Furthermore, colleges and employers can use them to identify and develop career readiness in college students.

    For example, roughly eight in 10 responding employers indicate they will be looking for evidence of teamwork and problem-solving skills on the resumes they review from members of the Class of 2021.

    So how can students demonstrate and articulate these attributes through their interactions with employers, such as during internships and interviews, and on resumes? Some of the ways students can prove their teamwork abilities—which NACE defines as being able to “build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities”—are by:

    • Listening carefully to others, taking time to understand and asking appropriate questions without interrupting;
    • Effectively managing conflict, interacting with and respecting diverse personalities, and meeting ambiguity with resilience; and
    • Being accountable for individual and team responsibilities and deliverables.

    Meanwhile, several of the ways college students can show their proficiency in the problem-solving competency—which is defined as to “identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information”—are by:

    • Making decisions and solving problems using sound, inclusive reasoning, and judgment;
    • Gathering and analyzing information from a diverse set of sources and individuals to fully understand a problem; and
    • Proactively anticipating needs and prioritizing action steps.

    It is increasingly important for new college graduate to demonstrate the behaviors tied to the NACE Career Readiness Competencies the help make a successful transition to the workplace: Approximately 57% of employers taking part in a NACE survey said they were screening job candidates by GPA—down sharply from nearly 75% that relied on this method two years ago.

    About NACE’s Career Readiness Competencies: NACE launched its Career Readiness Initiative in 2015 to address a fundamental need for new college graduates and the professionals who serve their career development needs and recruit them into the workforce: a shared understanding of what is needed to launch and develop a successful career, a common vocabulary by which to discuss needs and expectations, and a basic set of competencies upon which a successful career is launched. In 2020, a member task force undertook to review and revise the competencies as needed, while NACE and SkillSurvey completed a key phase of its validation effort to identify sample behaviors. More information about NACE’s Career Readiness Competencies—including the full sample behaviors—is available on NACEWeb

    To arrange an interview with Shawn VanDerziel, NACE’s executive director, to discuss the NACE Career Readiness Competencies, please contact Kevin Gray at   

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.