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Northwest Missouri State University

Career Ready Competencies

CRC Blocks

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines Career Readiness as "the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace." They have identified eight critical Career Ready Competencies all students should master before entering the workforce.

We encourage students to think about these competencies when creating a resume, cover letter, or other application materials for internships or jobs. It is important that a student is able to address these areas in an interview setting and when networking with other professionals. Showing and articulating that you have a mastery of these skills can help set you apart from other applicants.

See the Career Services Career Ready handout.


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Oral/Written Communication

Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively to a variety of audiences; demonstrate public speaking skills.
Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • Show evidence of public speaking in classes and organizations on campus
  • Provide error-free and well written application materials including resume and cover letter
  • Offer an appropriate voicemail message on your cell phone and promptly replying to messages
  • Be professional in all communications with employers (emails, phone conversations, in person conversations)

Things to avoid:

  • Using "text message" language (lol, jk, etc.)
  • Being overly casual with employers in conversations
  • Simple errors like misspelled words in application materials

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Exercise sound reasoning and analytical thinking; use knowledge, facts, and data to solve problems and make decisions.

Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • Show evidence of difficult/complex projects on resume and cover letter
  • Show experience with customer service
  • Use action verbs like "identified", "analyzed" and "managed" in your bullet points
  • Use the STAR method when answering behavioral interview questions

Things to avoid:

  • Talking about problems you were "forced" to solve, instead show that you took initiative
  • Focusing on problems you created
  • Forgetting about your work outside of class - many volunteer and student organizations require critical thinking skills

Teamwork and Collaboration

Build collaborative relationships representing diverse cultures, races, ages, gender, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints; work within team structure; negotiate/manage conflicts.

Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • List all your activities and organizations on your resume
  • Mention any planning or development experience you have had in previous jobs or groups
  • Talk about group projects in cover letter and interview settings
  • Talk about managing conflict (in a positive way) when possible
  • Use action verbs like "collaborated", "contributed", "assisted" and "cooperated" in your bullet points

Things to avoid:

  • Focusing on "lone wolf" projects or bad group experiences
  • Talking about group work in a negative way


Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals; organize, prioritize and delegate work; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate.
Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • List all leadership roles you have held within an organization - not just the most recent
  • Use action verbs like "mentored", "spearheaded", "steered" and "championed" in your bullet points
  • Give quantitative results when possible
  • Use leadership to bolster other competencies like teamwork and communication
  • List any awards or recognition you have received for leadership

Things to avoid:

  • Criticizing the leadership of others (former bosses, coworkers, etc.)
  • Giving non-specific examples in interviews

Professionalism and Work Ethic

Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits: punctuality, working productively with others, time management, understanding the importance of a professional work image and demonstrating integrity.

Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • Include statements like "Financed 100% of education through scholarships and part time employment" on resume
  • List part time and on campus work experiences
  • Show involvement in extra curricular activities and organizations

Things to avoid:

  • Being late to interviews and appointments

Career Management

Identify and articulate skills, strengths, knowledge and experiences; navigate career options and pursue these opportunities.

Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • Create a "master" document with all your previous work and internship experience, activities, volunteer work and more so you don't forget anything over time
  • Talk about any previous professional experience you have including internships, job shadowing etc. in interviews and cover letters
  • Discuss any experience with mentors or close relationships with professionals or professors

Things to avoid:

  • Seeming "over eager" by asking about promotions before you get the entry level job offer
  • Talking about how you plan to work for someone for a short period of time and then move on
  • Discussing salary in first interview or before the employer brings the subject up


Select and utilize technology to solve problems and accomplish goals. Demonstrate effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.

Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • Evaluate each job description for desired skills and address each as directly as possible
  • Provide links to your LinkedIn profile and/or online portfolio sites in your resume and cover letter header
  • Talk about any technical experience you have - don't assume the company name says it all
  • List any experience with data analysis or analytics you have in bullet points
  • List major-specific software or hardware you have used in your classes or internships
  • Talk about projects you contributed to as well as started from scratch - teamwork is a key part of technology

Things to avoid:

  • Using excessive space to talk about your ability to use Microsoft Office, Windows OS, etc.
  • Assuming the employer knows that you have used major-specific software or hardware
  • Overselling your mastery of complex software like MS Excel or Tableau

Intercultural Fluency

Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions.
Ways to demonstrate this competency:

  • Show involvement in diverse student groups on campus
  • Discuss group projects that involved working with other students
  • Include any previous employment or volunteer work with diverse populations outside of coursework
  • Highlight any study abroad or international travel you have done
  • Talk about any other languages you can speak, read or write

Things to avoid:

  • Using non people-first language in application materials or interviews
  • Stereotyping, using slurs and aspersions, etc. when discussing people
  • Inserting strong political or religious statements in application materials or interviews
  • Making jokes or statements that could be seen as insensitive by employer