Competencies for Careers

Not sure what employers are really looking for when they hire? Unsure how to articulate your unique experience? 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) identified eight top recognized skills that are highly regarded by both college programs and employers. Developing and articulating proficiency in these skills will give you a cutting-edge advantage when it’s time to pursue further education or employment. NACE competencies are considered transferable skills. Explore the NACE Competency guide.

NACE competencies are everywhere! Showcase your career readiness throughout your application materials and interview conversations to present a strategic edge.  

NACE Competencies and Sample Behaviors

Career and Self-Development

  • Awareness of career path opportunities.  
  • Getting an internship   
  • Recognizing your strengths and areas where you need to improve.  
  • Proactively developing yourself and your career through personal and professional learning opportunities.  
  • Self-awareness: select a skill that you would like to improve and seek out experiences to help develop that skill. 
  • Participating in undergraduate research or creative activity with a faculty member. 
  • Sustaining your relationships inside and outside your organization through networking. 
  • Taking a course with an Academic Service-Learning component.    


  • Asking appropriate questions for specific information. 
  • Communicate in an organized and transparent manner so others effectively understand your message. 
  • Communicate with patience and respect to diversity of learning styles, varied communication abilities, and cultural differences. 
  • Facilitate group discussions in class, campus organizations, internships or employment. 
  • Influencing and persuasion skills. 
  • Organize and volunteer with campus events. 
  • Promptly inform supervisors, specialists, and/or others when you need guidance with assigned tasks. 
  • Understand the significance and demonstration of verbal, written, and non-verbal language. 

Critical Thinking

  • Anticipate needs of stakeholders and prioritize action steps. 
  • Gather and analyze information from a diverse and unbiased set of sources to fully understand a problem. 
  • Accurately interpret and summarize data. 
  • Make decisions and solve problems using sound, inclusive reasoning and judgement. 
  • Communicate actions and rationale effectively, recognizing diverse perspectives and lived experiences of stakeholders. 
  • Proactively prioritize duties and execute them in a timely manner in a fast-paced environment. 
  • Identify a campus or community need and proactively find and implement solutions. 
  • When considering a complex decision, appraise your choices objectively and seek professional guidance when appropriate. 

Equity and Inclusion

  • Implore and use feedback from multiple cultural perspectives to make inclusive and equity-minded decisions. 
  • Actively embody inclusive and equitable practices that influence individual and systemic change. 
  • Advocate for inclusion, equitable practices, justice, and empowerment for historically marginalized communities. 
  • Seek global cross-cultural interactions and experiences that enhance one’s understanding of people from different demographic groups that lead to personal growth. 
  • Maintain and demonstrate an open mind to diverse environments, ideas and new ways of thinking. 
  • Critically think and inquire about “this is how it’s always been done” statements. 
  • Identify resources and eliminate barriers resulting from individual and systemic racism, inequities, and biases. 
  • Address systems of privilege that limit opportunities for members of historically marginalized communities. 
  • Study abroad; experience and interact with different cultures. 


  • Inspire, persuade, and motivate yourself and others under a shared vision. 
  • Discover and leverage diverse resources and feedback from others to inform direction. 
  • Use innovative thinking to go beyond traditional methods. 
  • Serve as a role model to others by approaching moments of adversity with confidence and a positive attitude. 
  • Encourage others by building mutual trust and understanding. 
  • Join or create a student organization.
  • Manage an intramural sports team, camp or recreation group. 
  • Plan, initiate, manage, complete and reflect on projects. 
  • Tutor, mentor, or coach students. 
  • Volunteer to work with nonprofit or a political event.  Find UW-Superior’s nonpartisan voter engagement resources at ‘Jackets Vote.


  • Act with integrity and accountability to yourself, others, stakeholders and your organization. 
  • Maintain a positive personal brand in alignment with your organization and personal career values. 
  • Be present and prepared. 
  • Demonstrate consistency and dependability. 
  • Solicit strong instructor/supervisor references from academic, co-curricular or employment groups. 
  • Meet deadlines, goals and expectations (strive to exceed when possible!). 
  • Pay attention to detail and minimize errors in your work. 
  • Work in a campus office.    


  • Listen carefully to others, take time to understand and ask appropriate questions without interruption.
  • Effectively manage conflict, interact with and respect diverse personalities, and meet ambiguity with resilience.
  • Be accountable for individual and team responsibilities and deliverables.
  • Employ personal strengths, knowledge, and talents to complement those of others.
  • Exercise the ability to compromise and open to alternative solutions.
  • Collaborate with others to achieve common goals.
  • Build strong, positive working relationships with supervisor and team members/coworkers.
  • Use an internship, study group, class or research project to help turn a group of individuals into a team with common goals.


  • Navigate change and be open to learning new technologies. 
  • Use technology to improve the efficiency and productivity of your work. 
  • Identify appropriate technology for completing specific tasks. 
  • Manage technology to integrate information to support relevant and timely decision-making. 
  • Quickly adapt to new or unfamiliar technologies. 
  • Manipulate information, construct ideas and use technology to achieve strategic goals. 
  • Design presentation for class or campus organization. 

Learn more about NACE Competencies.  

Schedule a meeting with a Career Development Manager at any point throughout your voyage via Handshake.