Career Competency Series: The What and Why

What are NACE career competencies?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) highlights eight career competencies that employers deem most important or important for new hires to articulate. Career Competencies are defined by NACE as “a set of skills, knowledge, and attributes that are necessary for career success.” They are:

  1. Career & Self Development
  2. Communication
  3. Critical Thinking
  4. Equity & Inclusion
  5. Leadership
  6. Professionalism
  7. Teamwork
  8. Technology

Why are they important?

With an ever-evolving employment landscape, faculty and staff in higher education continue to be innovative in instructional strategies and educational pedagogy to support students in the development of not only content knowledge, but skills and traits necessary to succeed post graduation.  Without knowing the exact future role(s) to which a student will fill, it is vital that students develop and are aware of the transferable skills they acquire to use as a standard currency to employers.  According to NACE’s Job Outlook 2019, “nearly three-quarters of respondents planned to screen candidates by GPA.” Three years later, “just 37% of respondents plan to do so.”  The diagram below showcases a shift away from a content-based approach.  A skill-centric approach is occurring which means students will need to market themselves in that regard to have a competitive edge.

Any of these competencies can be imprinted into multiple facets of a student’s college experience: internships, student employment, organizations, clubs, and classroom activities or assignments. Moreover, the major/field of study to which a student is studying has no effect on the extent to which these skills can be enhanced.  In fact, the more variety of experiences that a student encounters in their time at the university will allow for more opportunities to show how skills transfer between roles.  For example, teamwork can be developed during classroom group projects or from being an active member within a student club or organization.  Leadership can be exhibited through student employment, internships or a volunteer experience.  Thus, it is important that all students are able to articulate these skills within their resumes, conversations with future employers, and career goals in a way that highlights these competencies.

Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

By Kaitlyn Anderson
Kaitlyn Anderson Career Readiness Program Designer