According to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE), it is essential for college graduates to contain specific Career Readiness Competencies in order to be successful in a work environment. These competencies, or skills, are gained through professional experiences such as internships, part-time/full-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, job shadowing, and more. To put it into perspective, think of career readiness competencies like studying for a test. In order to successfully pass a test, you need to put in the work to prepare for it so you can achieve the end result of passing with a good grade, increasing your GPA. It is important to begin “studying,” or gaining experience in order to achieve a successful future in your career development. So, I’m sure you are wondering, what are these competencies? Let’s get started!
1. Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving
If you have ever been tasked with a problem that seemed very much “adult,” it is most likely that this situation required critical thinking and problem-solving. Employers want to see the ability for an individual to analyze an issue, making an appropriate decision regarding this issue, and then work toward solving this problem. So really, they want to see you adult (yes, adult). It is essential to use your knowledge, ideas, originality, and resources with problem-solving in order to make a respectable and appropriate decision. Make sure to take what you have learned in your classes, work experiences, and involvement opportunities to expand on these skills and increase your future career development.
2. Oral/Written Communication
The main objective here is to ensure that you communicate your thoughts in a clear, efficient manner both verbally and in a written format. Employers want to see that you contain effective public speaking skills along with the ability to write in a professional format. You are most likely practicing these skills in your classes through individual and group presentations as well as writing essays or research papers—so use these experiences to your advantage!
The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” fits perfectly under this competency. Building professional relationships with your coworkers is of utmost importance in the workplace in order to successfully achieve the goal your company is aiming to accomplish. Different individuals bring a diverse set of ideas, opinions, and values to a work environment, and all of these factors combined will produce effects results regarding a certain task. You will be more likely to accomplish a task and manage conflicts when collaborating with coworkers and clients who are from a different cultural background than your own.
4. Information Technology Application
With the vast rise of technology in our world, employers value potential employees to contain a basic level of proficiency in information technology skills. These skills may include knowing how to navigate computer programs such as Microsoft Office, SQL, Adobe Photoshop, and countless more systems. Whether you are working as a Mechanical Engineer, a Sports Reporter, or an English professor in a college university, technology will be involved in some shape or form. During your undergraduate career, make sure to take the opportunity to increase your IT skills! For example, you can visit the ePortfolio office for helpful tips to not only make your professional website #flawless, but to also learn new computer skills regarding web design. Take each of your experiences inside and outside of the classroom to expand your proficiency in the world of technology, as it will surely impress any employer.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” –John Quincy Adams. This quote by a former President encompasses the values of leadership. A common misconception of being a leader is that leaders only manage and delegate tasks to others, but that is not the case. If you instill strength in others and encourage them in completing a certain task, this is one quality that defines a great leader. Use your interpersonal skills to motivate and leads others toward success. If you know a colleague is having difficulties with a specific task, offer guidance to help them accomplish their goal in a clear, consistent, and empathetic manner. If you are a natural leader, demonstrate these qualities in an interview in order to show the employer how you would transfer these skills to a work environment. There are various leadership opportunities for you to pursue throughout your undergraduate career at Auburn—take a look at these opportunities here: https://auburn.collegiatelink.net. Not to mention, leadership is the #1 quality employers look for in potential employees. It’s a pretty big deal!
6. Professionalism/Work Ethic
So we’ve made it to number 6. If you’re overwhelmed and don’t even know how to start developing any of these skills, start here. Also make sure to breathe—is it going to be ok and you will land a job! Employers, over any other skill, value professionalism and actively search for this transferable skill in potential employees. Professionalism/work ethic includes how you represent yourself through your actions and interact with colleagues in the work environment. Are you on time to work each day? Does your verbal and nonverbal communication reflect a positive, respectful attitude? Do you follow the ethical guidelines to your practice? These are a few questions that illustrate professionalism in a work environment, and will guarantee a higher chance of landing a job.
7. Career Management
In career management, you want to ensure that you are confident in your skills, knowledge, and professional development in relation to your career of interest. When you are reviewing a job application and read through the job requirements, take this as an opportunity to identify areas of further professional growth and development. Reflect on your previous professional experiences and assess which skills you know contain versus the skills you are more unfamiliar with. With career management, you also want to remain knowledgeable of the job search process, how you can pursue different career opportunities, and what you can do to land a job—which these competencies will guarantee!
Now that you contain all of this fabulous knowledge, start taking the opportunities to develop these skills now! If you would like more information regarding these competencies or have any questions, please come visit us in the Career Center. Our Drop-In hours are listed on our website: www.auburn.edu/career. We hope to see you soon!