Career Readiness Competencies

Use to: What Employers Want to See in Applicants

Career Readiness definition


The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducts surveys and meetings with employers to determine the most commonly desired skills. NACE has identified a set of eight skills, which are known as the Career Readiness Competencies.

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.

Learn more about each competency below and how you can develop them during your time at USF.

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.

Ways to Build

  • Show an awareness of strengths and recognize areas for development.
  • Identify areas for continual growth; pursue and apply feedback.
  • Develop plans and goals for your future career.
  • Professionally advocate for yourself and others.
  • Display curiosity; seek out opportunities to learn.
  • Assume duties or positions that will help you progress professionally.
  • Establish, maintain, and/or leverage relationships with people who can help you professionally.
  • Seek and embrace development opportunities.
  • Voluntarily participate in further education, training, or other events to support your career.

Specific Examples

  • Attend workshops and events hosted by the Center for Career & Professional Development
  • Connect with peers, alumni, faculty and staff.
  • Seek out campus student leadership opportunities, such as Admissions Ambassadors, Dean’s Hosts, Career Peers, and student organization leadership roles.
  • Participate in internships, undergraduate research, student employment, or other experiential programs.


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

Ways To Build This Competency

  • Understand the importance of and demonstrate verbal, written, and non-verbal/body language, abilities.
  • Employ active listening, persuasion, and influencing skills.
  • Communicate in a clear and organized manner so that others can effectively understand.
  • Frame communication with respect to diversity of learning styles, varied individual communication abilities, and cultural differences.
  • Ask appropriate questions for specific information from supervisors, specialists, and others.
  • Promptly inform relevant others when needing guidance with assigned tasks.

Specific Examples

  • Actively participate in coursework, including class discussions, papers, class presentations.
  • Practice professional communication during internships, campus-based experiential learning, and off-campus jobs and volunteer experiences.
  • Seek opportunities to deliver presentations in front of small and large groups.

Critical Thinking

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

Ways To Build This Competency

  • Make decisions and solve problems using sound, inclusive reasoning and judgment.
  • Gather and analyze information from a diverse set of sources and individuals to fully understand a problem.
  • Proactively anticipate needs and prioritize action steps.
  • Accurately summarize and interpret data with an awareness of personal biases that may impact outcomes.
  • Effectively communicate actions and rationale, recognizing the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of stakeholders.
  • Multi-task well in a fast-paced environment.

Specific Examples

  • Take courses that involve data and analysis.
  • Complete projects in Forage to demonstrate skills.
  • Seek opportunities understand problems and contribute to solutions using available data.

Equity & 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.

Ways To Build This Competency

  • Solicit and use feedback from multiple cultural perspectives to make inclusive and equity-minded decisions.
  • Actively contribute to inclusive and equitable practices that influence individual and systemic change.
  • Advocate for inclusion, equitable practices, justice, and empowerment for historically marginalized communities.
  • Seek global cross-cultural interactions and experiences that enhance your understanding of people from different demographic groups and that leads to personal growth.
  • Keep an open mind to diverse ideas and new ways of thinking.
  • Identify resources and eliminate barriers resulting from individual and systemic racism, inequities, and biases.
  • Demonstrate flexibility by adapting to diverse environments.
  • Address systems of privilege that limit opportunities for members of historically marginalized communities.

Specific Examples

  • Take courses to learn about cultures and perspectives different from your own.
  • Join student groups who have members with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities.
  • Volunteer with community or campus groups to get to know a wide range of people, particularly those with different lived experiences.
  • Study abroad and immerse yourself into other cultures to gain a better understanding and perspective.


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

Ways To Build This Competency

  • Inspire, persuade, and motivate self and others under a shared vision.
  • Seek out and leverage diverse resources and feedback from others to inform direction.
  • Use innovative thinking to go beyond traditional methods.
  • Serve as a role model to others by approaching tasks with confidence and a positive attitude.
  • Motivate and inspire others by encouraging them and by building mutual trust.
  • Plan, initiate, manage, complete, and evaluate projects.

Specific Examples

  • Get involved in student organizations or campus leadership opportunities, such as Admissions Ambassadors, Dean’s Hosts, Career Peers, or others.
  • Mentor fellow students, formally or informally.
  • Seek opportunities to contribute to or lead a project, such as with student organizations, internships, volunteer work, or part-time jobs.


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

Ways To Build This Competency

  • Act equitably with integrity and accountability to self, others, and the organization.
  • Maintain a positive personal brand in alignment with organization and personal career values.
  • Be on time, present, and prepared.
  • Demonstrate dependability.
  • Prioritize and complete tasks to accomplish organizational goals.
  • Consistently meet or exceed goals and expectations.
  • Have an attention to detail, resulting in few if any errors in your work.
  • Show a high level of dedication toward doing a good job.

Specific Examples

  • Be positive when talking about your experience and career goals.
  • Manage your time effectively to organize your schedule so that you meet all of your commitments. If needed, prioritize your activities and make decisions about where you can reduce time commitments.
  • Lead with solutions and not complaints.


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

Ways To Build This Competency

  • Listen carefully to others, taking time to understand and ask appropriate questions without interrupting.
  • Effectively manage conflict, interact with and respect diverse personalities, and meet ambiguity with resilience.
  • Be accountable for individual and team responsibilities and deliverables.
  • Employ personal strengths, knowledge, and talents to complement those of others.
  • Exercise the ability to compromise and be agile.
  • Collaborate with others to achieve common goals.
  • Build strong, positive working relationships with supervisor and team members/coworkers.

Specific Examples

  • Seek opportunities to collaborate with others, such as on student organization efforts, internship projects, or campus initiatives.
  • Join a intramural sports team or other groups that emphasize team involvement.


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

Ways To Build This Competency

  • Navigate change and be open to learning new technologies.
  • Use technology to improve efficiency and productivity of their work.
  • Identify appropriate technology for completing specific tasks.
  • Manage technology to integrate information to support relevant, effective, and timely decision-making.
  • Quickly adapt to new or unfamiliar technologies.
  • Manipulate information, construct ideas, and use technology to achieve strategic goals.

Specific Examples

  • Seek opportunities to learn new or specialized technologies and systems, such as a industry-specific digital tool used at an internship site.
  • Complete certification programs or training opportunities for specific technology relevant to your chosen field.
  • Attend lectures and training opportunities related to AI.
Learn More