Career Competencies

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. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has identified and defined eight competencies that determine career-readiness: career management, professionalism/work ethic, leadership, application and information technology, oral/written communication skills, teamwork/collaboration, critical thinking/problem-solving, and global/intercultural fluency. Learn more by clicking the buttons below and watching our video about the value of career competencies and how to attain them.


The ability to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of an organization. The individual has public speaking skills; can express ideas to others; and write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.

7 Ways to Develop Communication Skills

  1. Create and deliver a presentation for a class, organization, or group.
  2. Take a Public Speaking class.
  3. Watch LinkedIn Learning communication tutorials.
  4. Write stories, blogs, papers, advertisements, or press releases.
  5. Proofread all online and written communication to avoid errors.
  6. Listen, listen, listen. Put away your cell phone and give full attention to who is talking.
  7. Join Career Track Razorbacks. You'll build both written and oral communication skills when you create resumes and cover letters, practice interviewing skills, and learn to articulate your strengths and experience for employers.

The ability to 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.

Want More? Watch a short video about problem solving.

6 Ways to Develop Critical Thinking or Problem-Solving Skills

  1. Activate your mind - read, play mind games or puzzles, journal, etc.
  2. Become a self-critic. Evaluate what you hear, what you read, and the decisions you make.
  3. Watch LinkedIn Learning critical thinking tutorials.
  4. Watch LinkedIn Learning problem solving tutorials.
  5. Join a debate team.
  6. Get involved in undergraduate or graduate research or complete a project in class that requires you to solve a problem or analyze options.

The ability to 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.

6 Ways to Develop Teamwork Skills

  1. Work with others on a class project, while in an internship, or during a volunteer effort where responsibility is shared.
  2. Join a student organization or team on campus where you can help achieve a common goal.
  3. Watch LinkedIn Learning teamwork tutorials.
  4. Join a musical group or act in a play.
  5. Handle difficult conversations with respect.
  6. Ask offices on campus to collaborate with you to host an event.

The ability to 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.

7 Ways to Develop Technology Skills

  1. Get free software training from the Student Technology Center.
  2. Take a UA technology course through Global Campus.
  3. Train and earn technology certificates through LinkedIn Learning.
  4. Watch YouTube videos to learn industry programs and software.
  5. Learn technology or software through a class or research project.
  6. Complete training in industry programs or software through an internship or volunteer opportunity.
  7. Join Career Track Razorbacks and build a LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, or other digital platform to highlight your professional background and strengths.

The ability to 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.

6 Ways to Develop Leadership Skills

  1. Join a UA leadership development program such as Emerging Leaders, Diversity Leadership Institute, or Lead Hogs.
  2. Take on a leadership role in an on-campus organization such as ASG.
  3. Watch LinkedIn Learning leadership tutorials.
  4. Become an S.I. Leader, Conversation Club Leader, or Resident Assistant.
  5. Take the lead on a class project.
  6. Serve in leadership role in an internship, volunteer project, job, research project, or Greek Life committee.

The ability to 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.

7 Ways to Develop Professionalism Skills

  1. Be on time to every class, meeting, job, and commitment. Punctuality is key.
  2. Invest in professional workplace attire. Take advantage of discounted professional attire every fall semester during Sooie Suitup or rent professional attire for free from Boss Hog Outfitters.
  3. Watch LinkedIn Learning "Developing Your Professional Image" course.
  4. Complete an internship to learn workplace culture and ethics in your industry.
  5. Take a UA course on ethics or professionalism.
  6. Take initiative on projects or tasks without being told.
  7. Learn more about work-related expectations and standards of professionalism when you join Career Track Razorbacks.

The ability to 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.

6 Ways to Develop Global/Intercultural Fluency Skills

  1. Join a multicultural student organization
  2. Minor in cultural studies or a foreign language
  3. Study Abroad.
  4. Use GoinGlobal to find job or internship opportunities in another country.
  5. Become a Cross-Cultural Mentor
  6. Attend a cultural event or workshop that's outside of your own culture

Demonstrates the ability to 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.

6 Ways to Develop Career Management Skills

  1. Join Career Track Razorbacks! It's a free nationally-recognized career management program developed by the UA Career Development Center.
  2. Research career opportunities on Occupational Outlook Handbook to identify skills and education required for a variety of occupations.
  3. Schedule an appointment with a career counselor to develop a career plan.
  4. Take a career assessment to identify skills and interests.
  5. Identify a mentor to help you navigate career decisions.
  6. Always leave an internship or job on good terms. Good references lead to good promotional opportunities.

Want to test your career readiness? Use this self-assessments to evaluate your current progress and identify goals for further development.

Learn how your resume or CV can reflect the competencies employers are seeking using this worksheet.

View example interview questions and how to incorporate the 7 career competencies into your answers using this worksheet.

View hundreds of short career readiness videos for tips and advice straight from professionals in the field.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers broadly defines Career Readiness to prepare students for a successful transition into life after graduation.