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Developing the Skills You Need for Career Success

When hiring for jobs, employers often talk about the “skills gap.” This refers to key knowledge — typically technical — that is in short supply in the workforce. But employers also see a gap in the “soft skills” college students need.

Skills for career readiness

Based on extensive research with employers, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified eight skills for career competency that help students successfully transition into the workplace: critical thinking, communication, teamwork, adaptability to technology, leadership, work ethic, career management and intercultural fluency. These competencies are the foundation of career success, and are important for students regardless of major.

Unfortunately, NACE research studies have found that while college students generally give themselves high marks in terms of their career readiness, employers do not agree. For example, while more than 90 percent of students rate themselves as “very to extremely proficient” in areas such as critical thinking and teamwork, employers see them as only “somewhat to very proficient.” In fact, employers rate students as “somewhat to very proficient” in all areas of career readiness.

College career centers

The college experience provides many opportunities for the development of skills for career readiness through coursework, internships, study abroad and extracurricular activities. However, students often struggle with how to articulate and demonstrate those competencies to potential employers. Fortunately, students can get help through their campus career center.

Career centers typically offer a range of ways that can help students improve their competencies with services like practice interviews and resume critiques. The typical campus career center also provides students with opportunities to connect with employers interested in hiring for full-time positions and internships. Internships are a good way to develop and demonstrate career readiness, and many employers look first to their interns when filling job openings.

Whether you are a current or potential student or a parent looking for ways to support your child’s career aspirations, the campus career center is good starting point for charting a course to career success. Be sure to take advantage of this important resource.

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