Career Readiness

As a UT Austin student, you have developed skills through curricular and co-curricular experiences to be successful in the job market. You are career-ready! However, you may be wondering: how do I express my skills and experience to an employer?

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.

  • What is Career Readiness?

    Learn why it’s important to be career ready.

Career Readiness Competencies

Being career-ready means that you have the skills and tools needed to launch or continue your career after graduation. The National Association of Colleges and Employers, an organization of employers and professionals from college and university career centers, developed a common list of high-demand skills and language to help students demonstrate their career readiness to employers. Understanding these career competencies gives you the power to:

  • Have confidence in your strengths by identifying the competencies you have and those you want to gain.
  • Enhance your interview skills by providing a descriptive competency-based story of your experiences, background, and abilities.
  • Promote yourself to professional contacts and recruiters by introducing yourself in a way that highlights the attributes, background, and strengths that make you stand out.
  • Know what to say and why you want to say it
    • When applying for jobs and internships, it can be easy to lose focus and overlook valuable stories, experiences or projects. It is important to clearly articulate your strengths and uniqueness. Explore the eight competencies framework to learn how to promote your experiences in and out of the classroom.
    • If you know why you want to highlight a particular skill or project, it will help you know when to mention particular experiences. Tailor your strengths and areas for growth to each position or opportunity. It is also important to know that your process may be different than another person’s. Lean into the many abilities you have honed and developed as a UT student.
  • When talking about your competencies:
    • Use “I” statements
    • Always circle back to you and your specific actions
    • Include the who, where, what and why
    • Add specifics whenever possible; instead of “class”, specify “English class”
    • Imagine someone asking “Tell me about a time when…”
    • Try the STAR or PARL method to structure your stories

Critical Thinking

Identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information.

Sample Behaviors

  • Make decisions and solve problems using sound, inclusive reasoning and judgment
  • Gather and analyze information from a diverse set of sources and individuals to fully understand a problem
  • Proactively anticipate needs and prioritize action steps
  • Accurately summarize and interpret data with an awareness of personal biases that may impact outcomes
  • Effectively communicate actions and rationale, recognizing the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of stakeholders
  • Multi-task well in a fast-paced environment
Competency Example
You can explain the steps you used to get and interpret knowledge, facts, and data to analyze an issue, make a decision, or solve a problem. “When moderating jobs on Handshake, I need to interpret the information provided by employers according to the recruitment policies established by the University. Once I decide whether the account can be approved or not, I provide a clear and concise explanation for that decision.”
You have completed a task or used resources in a new or different way and can describe your process. “Because our office has gone through drastic levels of change in services as well as staff members, staying on the same page can be hard to manage. Because of this, I created a daily task guide that provides student staff a source of direction in completing day-to-day tasks in the case that there isn’t another staff member available to help.”

Competency

You can explain the steps you used to get and interpret knowledge, facts, and data to analyze an issue, make a decision, or solve a problem.

Example

“When moderating jobs on Handshake, I need to interpret the information provided by employers according to the recruitment policies established by the University. Once I decide whether the account can be approved or not, I provide a clear and concise explanation for that decision.”

Competency

You have completed a task or used resources in a new or different way and can describe your process.

Example

“Because our office has gone through drastic levels of change in services as well as staff members, staying on the same page can be hard to manage. Because of this, I created a daily task guide that provides student staff a source of direction in completing day-to-day tasks in the case that there isn’t another staff member available to help.”

  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Students Ask–Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

Communication

Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with people inside and outside of your organization.

Sample Behaviors

  • Understand the importance of and demonstrate verbal, written, and non-verbal/body language, abilities
  • Employ active listening, persuasion, and influencing skills
  • Communicate in a clear and organized manner so that others can effectively understand
  • Frame communication with respect to diversity of learning styles, varied individual communication abilities, and cultural differences
  • Ask appropriate questions for specific information from supervisors, specialists, and others
  • Promptly inform relevant others when needing guidance with assigned tasks
Competency Example
You say your thoughts and ideas clearly through speaking and writing to coworkers, supervisors, customers, and clients. “As a Career Associate at Texas Career Engagement during shelter-in-place policies, I adapted to the heavy focus put on Zoom meetings, Slack messaging, emails, and task delegation and the decreased face-to-face interaction that was normal to the office.”
You have experience speaking to and engaging people, whether it is in small groups, large presentations, or anything in between. “I have served as a panelist in various conversations surrounding mental health and development programs for underrepresented communities. During these panelist conversations, I make an effort to practice skills such as active listening, eye contact, appropriate body language, and overall attentiveness. This allows me to comprehend better what message is being relayed so that I can communicate effectively.”
You have experience writing and editing a variety of business communications such as emails, letters, messages, brief announcements, or complex technical reports. “As the publicity head for one of my organizations, I was in charge of communicating information from my organization to my audience. This took place in multiple forms such as curated social media posts, newsletters, and announcements. When doing this, I kept in mind that while I am writing on behalf of a brand, I am also communicating with another individual.”

Competency

You say your thoughts and ideas clearly through speaking and writing to coworkers, supervisors, customers, and clients.

Example

“As a Career Associate at Texas Career Engagement during shelter-in-place policies, I adapted to the heavy focus put on Zoom meetings, Slack messaging, emails, and task delegation and the decreased face-to-face interaction that was normal to the office.”

Competency

You have experience speaking to and engaging people, whether it is in small groups, large presentations, or anything in between.

Example

“I have served as a panelist in various conversations surrounding mental health and development programs for underrepresented communities. During these panelist conversations, I make an effort to practice skills such as active listening, eye contact, appropriate body language, and overall attentiveness. This allows me to comprehend better what message is being relayed so that I can communicate effectively.”

Competency

You have experience writing and editing a variety of business communications such as emails, letters, messages, brief announcements, or complex technical reports.

Example

“As the publicity head for one of my organizations, I was in charge of communicating information from my organization to my audience. This took place in multiple forms such as curated social media posts, newsletters, and announcements. When doing this, I kept in mind that while I am writing on behalf of a brand, I am also communicating with another individual.”

  • Communications
  • Students Ask–Communication

Teamwork

Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.

Sample Behaviors

  • Listen carefully to others, taking time to understand and ask appropriate questions without interrupting
  • 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 be agile
  • Collaborate with others to achieve common goals
  • Build strong, positive working relationships with supervisor and team members/coworkers

 

Competency Example
You build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, religions, lifestyles, abilities, and viewpoints. “At work, we have a very large and diverse staff. When working on large projects, I need to interact with multiple staff members on several different levels of the hierarchy. Ultimately, this produces work that is inclusive and well-rounded.”
You are able to work in a team and negotiate and manage conflict when it arises. “In one of my classes, we were assigned a media campaign group project. My group worked together to decide how we wanted to market ourselves and what elements of the campaign to place the most focus on. I knew it was important for us each to share our individual input, and by doing this we were able to see each other eye-to-eye and come to a compromise for our campaign.”

Competency

You build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, religions, lifestyles, abilities, and viewpoints.

Example

“At work, we have a very large and diverse staff. When working on large projects, I need to interact with multiple staff members on several different levels of the hierarchy. Ultimately, this produces work that is inclusive and well-rounded.”

Competency

You are able to work in a team and negotiate and manage conflict when it arises.

Example

“In one of my classes, we were assigned a media campaign group project. My group worked together to decide how we wanted to market ourselves and what elements of the campaign to place the most focus on. I knew it was important for us each to share our individual input, and by doing this we were able to see each other eye-to-eye and come to a compromise for our campaign.”

  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Students Ask–Teamwork & Collaboration

Technology

Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.

Sample Behaviors

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

 

Competency Example
You integrate digital technology in an ethical and efficient way to complete everyday tasks, solve problems, and accomplish goals. “Before this semester, when signing students in and out of the office, we would use a paper schedule. However, this makes the check-in/out process more difficult because the paper schedule did not account for changes that would occur throughout the day. Therefore, I helped switch the process to an online schedule that made tracking changes and working collaboratively easy.”
You adapt to new and quickly changing technologies. “Starting a new job was daunting because it required using software that was new to me, such as Excel or Spreadsheets. But I took initiative to learn in my free time how to navigate through each of them.”

Competency

You integrate digital technology in an ethical and efficient way to complete everyday tasks, solve problems, and accomplish goals.

Example

“Before this semester, when signing students in and out of the office, we would use a paper schedule. However, this makes the check-in/out process more difficult because the paper schedule did not account for changes that would occur throughout the day. Therefore, I helped switch the process to an online schedule that made tracking changes and working collaboratively easy.”

Competency

You adapt to new and quickly changing technologies.

Example

“Starting a new job was daunting because it required using software that was new to me, such as Excel or Spreadsheets. But I took initiative to learn in my free time how to navigate through each of them.”

  • Digital Technology
  • Students Ask–Digital Technology

Leadership

Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals.

Sample Behaviors

  • Inspire, persuade, and motivate self and others under a shared vision.
  • Seek out 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 tasks with confidence and a positive attitude.
  • Motivate and inspire others by encouraging them and by building mutual trust.
  • Plan, initiate, manage, complete, and evaluate projects.

 

Competency Example
You recognize, utilize, and support the strength of others to achieve common goals. “Building a good connection with my team is key to achieving common goals. I try to know how everyone works and what their strengths are.”
You organize, prioritize, and know when to divide large tasks amongst multiple people. “I designate a time and duration for my tasks. I also know that it’s okay to ask people for help with large tasks that may seem impossible to finish within a certain time frame.”
You use interpersonal skills, such as active listening, to coach and guide others. “I think active listening is essential in communicating. In my experience as a mentor, I always try to incorporate this skill by visualizing what is being said. I respond to what my mentee expresses to me first by rephrasing what was said to ensure I understood it correctly. That way my response is relevant and constructed in a way that best reflects my thoughts.”
You understand and manage your own emotions and those of other people. You use empathic skills like putting yourself in another’s shoes to guide and motivate. “It can be really easy for me to see when a team member isn’t on board or wants to move in one direction when the others want to move in another. It’s important to me to understand what they are processing and why they’re thinking of something else. I then try to see if I can address it or incorporate it into the direction the team is moving toward.”

Competency

You recognize, utilize, and support the strength of others to achieve common goals.

Example

“Building a good connection with my team is key to achieving common goals. I try to know how everyone works and what their strengths are.”

Competency

You organize, prioritize, and know when to divide large tasks amongst multiple people.

Example

“I designate a time and duration for my tasks. I also know that it’s okay to ask people for help with large tasks that may seem impossible to finish within a certain time frame.”

Competency

You use interpersonal skills, such as active listening, to coach and guide others.

Example

“I think active listening is essential in communicating. In my experience as a mentor, I always try to incorporate this skill by visualizing what is being said. I respond to what my mentee expresses to me first by rephrasing what was said to ensure I understood it correctly. That way my response is relevant and constructed in a way that best reflects my thoughts.”

Competency

You understand and manage your own emotions and those of other people. You use empathic skills like putting yourself in another’s shoes to guide and motivate.

Example

“It can be really easy for me to see when a team member isn’t on board or wants to move in one direction when the others want to move in another. It’s important to me to understand what they are processing and why they’re thinking of something else. I then try to see if I can address it or incorporate it into the direction the team is moving toward.”

  • Leadership
  • Students Ask–Leadership

Professionalism

Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.

Sample Behaviors

  • Act equitably with integrity and accountability to self, others, and the organization
  • Maintain a positive personal brand in alignment with organization and personal career values
  • Be present and prepared
  • Demonstrate dependability (e.g., report consistently for work or meetings)
  • Prioritize and complete tasks to accomplish organizational goals
  • Consistently meet or exceed goals and expectations
  • Have an attention to detail, resulting in few if any errors in their work
  • Show a high level of dedication toward doing a good job
Competency Example
You acknowledge and learn from your mistakes with integrity and ethical behavior. You act responsibly with the interest of the larger community in mind. “As soon as I realize something went wrong, I try my hardest to correct it within that time. If it affects other things in my work area, I let my coworkers know ahead of time, so it doesn’t negatively affect the completion of other tasks.”
You understand the importance of non-verbal communication in a professional setting. “Body language is important! Even when I’m feeling down or upset, I try to display friendliness in my body language and nonverbally through my tone and expressions.”
You consistently arrive on time, work productively with others, have a strong work ethic, and manage your time well. “I have to set various alarms to ensure my punctuality. Something that helps me with being productive is finding one part of a task that I find most intriguing and interesting and getting motivation through that to give my best efforts in the work I’m doing.”

Competency

You acknowledge and learn from your mistakes with integrity and ethical behavior. You act responsibly with the interest of the larger community in mind.

Example

“As soon as I realize something went wrong, I try my hardest to correct it within that time. If it affects other things in my work area, I let my coworkers know ahead of time, so it doesn’t negatively affect the completion of other tasks.”

Competency

You understand the importance of non-verbal communication in a professional setting.

Example

“Body language is important! Even when I’m feeling down or upset, I try to display friendliness in my body language and nonverbally through my tone and expressions.”

Competency

You consistently arrive on time, work productively with others, have a strong work ethic, and manage your time well.

Example

“I have to set various alarms to ensure my punctuality. Something that helps me with being productive is finding one part of a task that I find most intriguing and interesting and getting motivation through that to give my best efforts in the work I’m doing.”

  • Professionalism & Work Ethic
  • Students Ask–Professionalism & Work Ethic

Career & Self-Development

Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships.

 

Sample Behaviors

  • Show an awareness of own strengths and areas for development
  • Identify areas for continual growth while pursuing and applying feedback
  • Develop plans and goals for one’s future career
  • Professionally advocate for oneself and others
  • Display curiosity; seek out opportunities to learn
  • Assume duties or positions that will help one progress professionally
  • Establish, maintain, and/or leverage relationships with people who can help one professionally • Seek and embrace development opportunities
  • Voluntarily participate in further education, training, or other events to support one’s career
Competency Example
You recognize and can explain how specific skills, knowledge, and experiences you have that connect to the opportunity you want and your career goals. “Whenever someone comments positively on my work, I write it down. We often scramble to think of our strengths and experiences but writing things down gives me ideas of what I am good at and helps me to know my specific strengths.”
You are aware of professional areas that have room for growth. “I am a very ambitious person, and at times my ambition can pull my goals all over the place. I’ll have goals in so many areas that I become overwhelmed and won’t follow through on many. Because of this, I know I need more work in my time management, planning, and organizational skills.“
You have become familiar with the job search process and actively pursue opportunities. “I always hear about good resources and benefits, but I think it’s important to realize the significance in actually taking action in doing research and networking into those resources. At my job in a career services office, I learned about many tools and resources. Because I took action to dive deeper in my research, I was able to tap into many job and career resources that I didn’t know existed.”
You understand your strengths and weaknesses, know what you want and what you may need, and take steps to advocate for opportunities in the workplace. “I think of skills I want to develop or types of projects I would like to work on and talk with my supervisor to see if there is a way to incorporate them into my work. For example, my supervisor places an importance on professional development, so I brainstorm ideas of projects or skills I would like to work on.”

Competency

You recognize and can explain how specific skills, knowledge, and experiences you have that connect to the opportunity you want and your career goals.

Example

“Whenever someone comments positively on my work, I write it down. We often scramble to think of our strengths and experiences but writing things down gives me ideas of what I am good at and helps me to know my specific strengths.”

Competency

You are aware of professional areas that have room for growth.

Example

“I am a very ambitious person, and at times my ambition can pull my goals all over the place. I’ll have goals in so many areas that I become overwhelmed and won’t follow through on many. Because of this, I know I need more work in my time management, planning, and organizational skills.“

Competency

You have become familiar with the job search process and actively pursue opportunities.

Example

“I always hear about good resources and benefits, but I think it’s important to realize the significance in actually taking action in doing research and networking into those resources. At my job in a career services office, I learned about many tools and resources. Because I took action to dive deeper in my research, I was able to tap into many job and career resources that I didn’t know existed.”

Competency

You understand your strengths and weaknesses, know what you want and what you may need, and take steps to advocate for opportunities in the workplace.

Example

“I think of skills I want to develop or types of projects I would like to work on and talk with my supervisor to see if there is a way to incorporate them into my work. For example, my supervisor places an importance on professional development, so I brainstorm ideas of projects or skills I would like to work on.”

  • Career Management
  • Students Ask–Career Management

Equity & Inclusion

Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.

Sample Behaviors

  • Solicit and use feedback from multiple cultural perspectives to make inclusive and equity-minded decisions
  • Actively contribute to 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 and that leads to personal growth
  • Keep an open mind to diverse ideas and new ways of thinking
  • Identify resources and eliminate barriers resulting from individual and systemic racism, inequities, and biases
  • Demonstrate flexibility by adapting to diverse environments
  • Address systems of privilege that limit opportunities for members of historically marginalized communities
Competency Example
You value, respect, and learn from people of diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions. “I believe it’s crucial to be educated on what diversity means and to understand concepts that surround diversity and inequity issues. Because of this, I make an effort to place myself in spaces that are not my norm. I go to cultural events outside of my own, attend info sessions, and volunteer in communities that are distinct from my own. I do this to learn about and from other cultures. I think stepping outside of my comfort zone helps me to gain a new perspective that simultaneously allows me to appreciate, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, etc.”
You show acceptance, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and you understand and value individuals’ differences. “Having everyone together and respecting one's beliefs can make a positive difference in their work performance.”

Competency

You value, respect, and learn from people of diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions.

Example

“I believe it’s crucial to be educated on what diversity means and to understand concepts that surround diversity and inequity issues. Because of this, I make an effort to place myself in spaces that are not my norm. I go to cultural events outside of my own, attend info sessions, and volunteer in communities that are distinct from my own. I do this to learn about and from other cultures. I think stepping outside of my comfort zone helps me to gain a new perspective that simultaneously allows me to appreciate, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, etc.”

Competency

You show acceptance, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and you understand and value individuals’ differences.

Example

“Having everyone together and respecting one's beliefs can make a positive difference in their work performance.”

  • Global & Intercultural Fluency
  • Students Ask–Global & Intercultural Fluency

Next Steps

Now that you’ve explored the competencies and identified some of the ways you have gained these skills, explore our online career resources to learn how you can demonstrate your career readiness to employers. Consider making an appointment with the TCE Career Education team to help identify other competency-related experiences and articulate your competencies into a professional story for interviewing, networking, and promoting your strengths and experiences.

Explore Online Career Competency Resources
Appointments

About

Through extensive research among employers and a task force of college career services and HR/staffing professionals, The National Association of Colleges and Employers – and organization of employers and professionals from college and university career centers – identified and defined the above eight competencies associated with career readiness

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