Career Readiness

What is Career Readiness?

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), “Career readiness is a foundation from which to demonstrate requisite core competencies that broadly prepare [individuals] for success in the workplace and lifelong career management. For new college graduates, career readiness is key to ensuring successful entrance into the workforce.

NACE launched its Career Readiness Initiative in 2015 to address a fundamental need for new college graduates and the professionals who serve their career development needs and recruit them into the workforce: a shared understanding of what is needed to launch and develop a successful career, a common vocabulary by which to discuss needs and expectations, and a basic set of competencies upon which a successful career is launched.” (

What are the Career Readiness Competencies?

NACE has established and refined a total of 8 Career Readiness Competencies, updated most recently through a review and feedback process that occurred from 2020-2022. You can find full definitions on the NACE website. 

  • Career & Self Development
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Equity & Inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

Evaluating and Developing Your Career Readiness as a VCU Student

We encourage you to regularly review and revisit the following statements and consider your current level of confidence in each skill, from beginning (willing to learn) to expert (able to train others): 

  • Career & Self Development: I put in effort to develop professionally through continual learning, understanding my strengths and weaknesses, exploring career-related opportunities, and building professional relationships.
  • Communication: I am able to clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with people in a variety of settings
  • Critical Thinking: I am able to effectively identify and respond to specific problems/situations by analyzing relevant information.
  • Equity & Inclusion: I am able to effectively engage and include people from different local and global cultures. 
  • Leadership: I am able to recognize and leverage my and others’ strengths to help achieve individual and shared goals.
  • Professionalism: I regularly demonstrate effective work habits, and am able to contribute in tangible ways to different communities and workplaces. 
  • Teamwork: I am able to build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.
  • Technology: I am able to build technology-related skills and utilize technology to complete tasks, improve processes, and accomplish goals.

Career Readiness Competencies can be intentionally built and refined in a number of ways as a VCU student. Some options include: 

  • Classroom environment
  • Student organizations and campus leadership roles
  • Part-time, full-time, and/or seasonal jobs
  • Internships, volunteering, and other experiential learning 

For example, here are just a few ways you could develop communication skills while at VCU:

  • Work with VCU Writing Center
  • Take writing-based courses and/or communications-focused courses
  • Read and/or write a lot independently
  • Use Grammarly, a virtual tool
  • Engage in public speaking through Toastmasters, TedTalks, Mock Trial, and/or student organization roles (check out Rams Connect)
  • Complete relevant LinkedIn Learning modules (free!)
  • Practice writing cover letters and getting feedback from Career Services
  • Practice interviewing via Big Interview online resource from VCS
  • Collaborate with classmates to successfully complete class projects

You can articulate and share stories regarding your Career Readiness Competencies in many different formats and places, including but not limited to: 

Want to work with a Career Counselor to talk about Career Readiness and how you can strategically build your skills? Make an appointment through Handshake.