Two weeks ago, we wrote about technical and soft skills and how those can be developed. As a follow-up to that article, we wish to further discuss core competencies that enable graduates to transition successfully into the workplace. In my opinion, these competencies are also key in enabling current employees to thrive.

USIU-Africa, through the Career Services Department, is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) - a community focused on the employment of new college graduates. NACE classifies these type of competencies as Career Readiness , which it defines as the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace

In accordance with its mission, NACE, through extensive research and a task force comprised of representatives from both the higher education and corporate sides, has developed a definition and identified competencies associated with career readiness for the new college graduate. (Details about the research are available here.)

If you’re a current student, check out the following competencies to gauge your career readiness and if you’re a current employee, ask a colleague, or even your supervisor, to rate you on each on a scale of 1-10, with one being the lowest and 10 the highest.


  1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: 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.
  2. Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
  3. Teamwork/Collaboration: 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.
  4. Digital Technology: 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.
  5. Leadership: 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. Professionalism/Work Ethic: 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. Career Management: 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.
  8. Global/Intercultural Fluency: 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.
These competencies are a great place to start in self-assessments as they give a clear definition and criteria of what to look out for in each.

If you have identified gaps in your career readiness or level of competency as a current employee, visit Career Services in the Freida Brown Student Center for an in-depth discussion on how to pursue growth in the specific areas. You can also email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any feedback.