Career Readiness Competencies


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.

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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.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers,