Career Readiness: Competencies for a Career-Ready Workforce
Career readiness is a foundation from which to demonstrate requisite core competencies that broadly prepare the college educated for success in the workplace and lifelong career management.
For new college graduates, career readiness is key to ensuring successful entrance into the workforce. Career readiness is the foundation upon which a successful career is launched. Career readiness is, quite simply, the new career currency.
For higher education, career readiness provides a framework for addressing career-related goals and outcomes of curricular and extracurricular activities, regardless of the student’s field of study. For employers, career readiness plays an important role in sourcing talent, providing a means of identifying key skills and abilities across all job functions; similarly, career readiness offers employers a framework for developing talent through internship and other experiential education programs.
There are eight career readiness competencies, each of which can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. Review a definition of each competency below as well as download supplemental materials to support and incorporate into your initiatives.
Download Support Materials
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.
Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization.
Identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information.
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.
Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals.
Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.
Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.
Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
Share Your Career Readiness Resources
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.
An initial task force—made up of NACE members from both career services and university relations and recruiting—developed the career readiness definition and associated competencies. These were subsequently reviewed and updated by a task force of members in 2017 to reflect feedback from members who were using the competencies with students.
In addition, after the initial launch, NACE undertook work to identify behaviors that could be associated with the competencies, partnering with SkillSurvey to validate those behaviors.
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. As part of its process, the task force drafted its recommendations for revisions and presented them to the NACE membership for comment. More than 300 members provided recommendations and comments. The resulting revised competencies reflect those member insights.