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How Can I Become Career Ready?

Own your experience. Plan. Achieve. Repeat.

What does career readiness mean and why does it matter?

Career Readiness is the ability to strategically gain meaningful competencies, skills, and experiences for success in life and career.

Why should I be career ready?

Professionally speaking, it matters because employers and graduate programs are looking for a core set of competencies in recent graduates. Your competencies also play a big part in your daily life as a citizen, parent, member of the church, etc. A liberal arts education paired with strategically chosen experiences outside of the classroom help you gain and build competencies and skills.
So why should you focus on your career readiness?

  1. You'll develop the skills employers want: Focusing now on becoming career ready will help you enter the world of work with the transferable skills necessary to adapt and grow throughout your career.
  2. You'll be able to tell your story: Being able to effectively communicate your strengths and "connect the dots" for employers and other professionals in your network can assist you in demonstrating that you are the best fit for a specific position, organization, industry, or network.
  3. You'll be able to strategize how to continue growing: Reflecting on your career readiness can help you identify areas of growth as a professional. This type of reflection can be a powerful tool to help you target experiences that will serve as professional development.

Key Components of Becoming Career Ready

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What is a competency?

Competencies are behavioral capacities, knowledge, or abilities that enable good performance in a particular role. Competencies are not a "you either have it or you don’t" set of attributes and abilities. While you are at BYU, you can begin to understand and build the competencies that you will continue to refine throughout your life and career.

What competencies should I be developing?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers, (NACE) through research has identified8 Core Career Readiness Competencies. The Core Career Competencies not only define career readiness but also give you a practical framework to demonstrate your career readiness to prospective employers or to graduate school admissions committees. They also help you identify the advantage of the liberal arts, spelled out in tangible terms.

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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
Which competencies does my liberal arts education prepare me for specifically? (Click Icons for More Information.)


A liberal arts education teaches you to articulate and write coherent explanations and arguments with attention to the implications of language. Many of your courses emphasize open discussion, drafting, and feedback, which allow you to fully develop your ideas. Your course of study teaches you to think of yourself as a writer; as someone who isn’t intimidated by the opportunity to create your own narrative. It teaches you to tell a story, be it creative or critical, descriptive or persuasive, and share it with an audience.

What can I say about my ability to communicate?

I am a critical writer and discerning reader who appreciates how texts are put together and how narratives work.

I can write persuasive prose employing empirical research to make an argument.

I can articulate findings, claims, and solutions effectively.

I can communicate in ways that allow me to collaborate with others to solve problems.

I know my audience and my relationship to them.

I have a deep appreciation for nuances in words and ideas.

I make conscious use of form and conventions to communicate strategically.

Wondering how and where your liberal arts education is teaching you to communicate better? Ask yourself the following questions:

• How do I approach writing within my own academic discipline?

• How do I adapt my writing based on genre, audience, and type of assignment?

• How do I craft an argument to be as persuasive as possible?

• How do I treat evidence and how do I make it interesting?

• How does my development as a writer influence my abilities as a speaker?

• How does the process of formulating my thoughts and expressing my ideas in class discussions?

• How have I been able to practice formal speaking in my coursework?


A liberal arts education teaches you to observe and interpret the nuances of another culture through its language, history, traditions, and practices. Your major helps you conduct empirical research that changes and informs how you engage with and interpret the diverse world around you. Your major also helps prepare you to use language to effectively navigate a variety of cultures. Like the other competencies, language proficiency and cultural literacy facilitate meaning-making across linguistic, cultural, social, and even organizational divides.

What can I say about my ability to navigate cultures?

I can handle socially, culturally, and linguistically diverse or unfamiliar situations.

I can promote shared understanding and collaboration.

I am developing a deeper understanding of the human experience, informed by language, history, art, cultural traditions, and practices.

I am cultivating a clearer sense of my own cultural values and the tensions resulting from interactions across different backgrounds and perspectives.

I can creatively engage social problems using effective theories and methods.

I recognize the role of the divine in human affairs and the divinity of humanity.

Wondering how and where your liberal arts education is teaching you to navigate cultures better? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How has my study of another language expanded my understanding of other cultures as well as my native language?
  • How do I use language to accomplish my priorities, analyze complex problems, and complete projects?
  • How have I learned to use concrete and abstract language effectively to support an opinion, hypothesize and discuss topics of interest in my classes?
  • What experiences in and out of class have encouraged me to identify my cultural values as well as others’ core values more precisely?
  • How have I managed cultural differences other than language in and outside of the classroom?
  • When researching and writing, how have I identified and synthesized significant cultural elements to create a compelling argument or narrative?
  • How has my exposure to and study of literature, art, news, social media, architecture, etc., increased my capacity to see contrasting values as equally valid?
  • How have my interactions with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds enhanced my ability to develop and maintain successful relationships with others?


A liberal arts education prepares you to locate credible information, identify patterns, and narrate their connections to relevant contexts. Many of your courses involve projects that employ this competency, encouraging you to exercise judgment as a sophisticated researcher and analyst. This involves assessing the credibility, reliability, and relevance of information. Armed with good information, you can then synthesize and communicate your learning to persuade others to consider your point of view.

What can I say about my information literacy?

I can make sense of good information for specific purposes and audiences.

I can filter out inaccurate and irrelevant material and discriminate for the most sound and substantive sources.

I can employ rigorous research methods to understand diverse human experiences.

I can design research that addresses societal problems.

I can solve real-world problems and evaluate outcomes using critical thinking and empirical research.

Wondering how and where your liberal arts education is teaching you to be more information literate? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What have I learned about the process of identifying core questions and themes? How does that relate to problem-posing/solving?
  • How do I think through challenges of breadth and depth as I begin my research?
  • How do I decide what kinds of sources I need and where to go to find them?
  • What goes into my final decisions about which sources to include and which to ignore?
  • How has interpreting information played an important role in my own academic study?
  • What steps do I take to create an original argument using others’ opinions and research as support?
  • How do I carefully examine selected material, finding evidence addressing my theme or question?
  • How do I interpret information based on my audience and/or purpose?

How do I learn and develop competencies?

Competency development is part of your life-long learning. There is a model to engage in that learning better so that the competencies and your ability to articulate them are stronger. The model isn’t linear, but instead, is a set of interdependent phases that overlap at times. Each stage can better equip you to make informed decisions about your life and to own your learning and experiences.