Employability Skills: 8 Strengths to Master for Career Success

Do You Have the Essentials Skills Hiring Officers are Looking For?

Whether you are a new graduate conducting a job search or an experienced professional pursuing a career change, there are important competencies and knowledge you’ll want to hone or acquire to rise above the competition. Hiring officers are seeking certain essential employability skills. Most of these coveted skills are often referred to as “transferable” skills because they can easily apply to any job or work setting.

As you advance in your career, it is important you have a strong command of all the elements employers seek: academic credentials, job content, employability skills, and career awareness. One area to pay particular attention to is your employability skills. Based upon consecutive multiyear surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), it is these types of skills that are reported as traits employers deem as high priority in the workplace.


The concept of career readiness in the workforce has become an exceptionally important issue that has raised concern in both higher education and the labor market. Educators want to ensure students are learning the knowledge and skills necessary for sustaining a living in the 21st century. In conjunction with a task force of college career services personnel and human resource staffing professionals, and based upon extensive research, NACE identified eight competencies associated with career readiness that target the employability skills:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems.
  • Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization.
  • Teamwork /Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints.
  • Digital Technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
  • Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others.
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time/workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image.
  • Career Management: Identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth.
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions.


As you review the list of competencies, you may note some of the skills in which you are proficient, and others that you wish to develop further. Here are a few tips on how to get started:

  • Advance your education and training
  • Augment your knowledge and skills through additional coursework, degrees, or certifications in the subject areas where you believe you are deficient.
  • Seek additional opportunities to expand your mindset and your skillsets.
  • Adopt a growth mindset. With the right training, practice, and dedication, you can master new skills and increase your professional development.
  • Want to strengthen your leadership and/or teamwork skills? Seek out a mentor who has refined these skills, and solicit advice and assistance.
  • Read, or attend webinars or conferences, to gain more knowledge and strategies to improve your skillsets.
  • Inquire about career assessment and exploration tools that will expand your personal and professional knowledge and increase your job search techniques.

Taking these steps can positively impact your professional growth employability skills—those qualities and talents that will provide you with an edge in the job market and allow for greater potential. Once you have acquired and refined these skills, be ready to illustrate them on your resume and promote them in an interview.

For more information on the NACE competencies and other career-readiness information, visit the Excelsior Career Center.