Career Readiness Defined

What is Career Readiness?

Career readiness is a foundation to demonstrate requisite core competencies that broadly prepare college students for success in the workplace and lifelong career management.

For new college graduates, career readiness is key to ensuring successful entrance into the workforce. Career readiness is the foundation upon which a successful career is launched.

Career Readiness Competencies

These eight competencies are sought after by employers from all industries and desired from all majors. Click the name of the competency to read its definition and sample behaviors.

Career & Self-Development
Critical Thinking
Equity & Inclusion

Students: Build Career Readiness Skills

A Mizzou education provides you with knowledge, skills, and experiences that will serve as a springboard for success long after you graduate with your degree.  To help you communicate your Mizzou advantage, we encourage you to engage in the following career readiness activities:

1) Assess Your Career Readiness with Focus 2 

Take the Focus 2  Am I Career Ready ?  module to evaluate to what degree you have developed each of the eight career competencies. You’ll receive an assessment based on your responses to questions and suggestions on how to further develop each competency.  You can take the module as many times as you like to note your progress. We also encourage students to schedule a meeting with a Career Specialist to discuss the results.

2) Consult Career Readiness Guides 

These guides offer simple, practical steps you can take to shape your career development journey. To become more career ready, don’t just skim the information – act on it!   

3) Reflect on your College Experience 

Complete the career readiness reflection worksheet, documenting the ways in which you have demonstrated career competencies in and out of the classroom. Map the skills and knowledge you have acquired through classes, campus involvement, employment and service. 

Faculty & Staff: Facilitate Learning and Growth

Students develop career competencies through curricular and co-curricular experiences at Mizzou.  However, recognizing these competencies within different contexts can be challenging.  Faculty have the unique opportunity to help students reflect on how they can translate their skills toward relevant careers using a shared understanding and language of career readiness. 

Consider ways you can introduce career readiness to students and incorporate career readiness in your classroom, advising and student interactions. 

1) Share Resources and Make Referrals 

Encourage students to  meet with a Career Specialist.  Our friendly and resourceful staff members are eager to help students, in-person or online, weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00  p.m.   

Also, share helpful career readiness resources: 

2) Create Intentional Activities 

Consult our Career Readiness Ideas for Instructors and Career Readiness Ideas for Supervisors for suggestions on how to help students develop their competencies and recognize their skills in and out of the classroom. 

3) Consult and Network  

Take advantage of Career Center resources, newsletters and our Career Development Network for continued discussions about student career development and career readiness. We also welcome requests for consultations about incorporating career development into individual courses, undergraduate curriculum and student interactions. 

Career Readiness Definitions

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 within and without one’s organization.*

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.

Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an 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.
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.
Equity & Inclusion

Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from historically marginalized communities, as well as different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist and social justice practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of discrimination and oppression.**

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.

**The definition of Equity & Inclusion was adapted to include relevant NACE sample behaviors.


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.

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.

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.

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.