Core Competencies for Career Readiness

Competence is the ability to do something successfully. When it comes to your career, competency is defined as the knowledge, skills and personal attributes that make you a better employee and your workplace a better business.

At WSU, you’ll have the chance to explore and develop your levels of competency across eight core categories.

Whether it’s in the classroom, through clubs and co-curricular activities, or during internships and part-time jobs, there are so many ways to prepare for your career.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to assess, contextualize and compare available evidence when you form a position on a complex issue.

It’s analyzing your own and others’ assumptions on a topic or situation. It's also evaluating issues from multiple perspectives to address problems and solutions.

Learn how to build your critical thinking competency.

Oral & Written Communication

Communication is the ability to express thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively through writing or spoken word. It also means that you can listen attentively and purposefully despite distractions.

You'll need to communicate to a variety of audiences from co-workers and supervisors to clients, customers and other external groups.

You also will be able to verbally discuss and produce reliable, succinct, and easy-to-follow professional documents. This includes every step from planning, research, writing, editing, proofreading and even designing such documents.

Learn how to build your oral and written communication competency.

Teamwork & Collaboration

Teamwork is the ability to work with others closely together to achieve a joint outcome. You'll need to work well with people from multiple backgrounds and perspectives who bring a variety of specialized skills and knowledge to the task.

Building collaborative relationships in your workplace is important because you'll:

  • learn from other team members
  • share knowledge, resources and workloads freely
  • help one another complete jobs  

Learn how to build your teamwork & collaboration competency.

Digital Technology

Digital technology competency is when you can use current digital technologies ethically and efficiently to:

  • solve problems
  • complete tasks 
  • accomplish goals

You'll also be able to effectively adapt to new and emerging technologies. 

Learn how to build your digital technology competency.


Leadership is the ability to leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals. An effective leader is able to organize, prioritize and delegate work.

You'll need good interpersonal skills to coach and develop others toward success.

Leadership requires empathic skills to guide and motivate a team. It's also the ability to assess and manage your emotions and the emotions of others.

Learn how to build your leadership competency.

Professionalism & Career Management

Professionalism is the ability to demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits. You'll understand how your professional image is affected by verbal and non-verbal communication.

Having professionalism means that you:

  • show integrity
  • demonstrate ethics
  • act responsibly with the interests of the organization and wider community in mind


It also means that you learn from your mistakes.

When you can identify and talk about your skills, strengths, knowledge and experiences related to a specific job and career goals, that's career management.

It's the ability to recognize and express areas where you need to grow professionally. It's how you navigate and explore job options, then understand and take the steps to pursue opportunities.

Career management is also advocating for yourself and taking advantage of opportunities at work. 

Learn how to build you professionalism and career management competency.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is the ability to demonstrate commitment to respectfully collaborate across and within community contexts and structures.

You can connect and extend knowledge from your own academic study to benefit the greater community.

Learn how to build your community engagement competency.

Global & Intercultural Fluency

Global and cultural fluency is the ability to value, honor, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions.

It also means to demonstrate openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact with all people and understand individuals’ differences.

Learn how to build your global and intercultural fluency competency.
These core competencies are based on a list from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Many competencies align with WSU’s university-wide student learning outcomes.