Career Readiness: How to Define It and Teach It


“Career readiness” has been trending in higher education lately, and for good reason: the term has become synonymous with a set of guidelines for institutions to follow to help students best become ready for, well, their careers. 

The term’s growing prevalence speaks to the increased attention institutions have been giving to meeting the needs of today’s employers as well as today’s students. Colleges and universities are now focusing on what makes a recent college graduate employable and targeting skills employers look for in college graduates when preparing offerings for their students.

To make this approach effective, these institutions must truly understand the definition of career readiness and proactively develop and seek out resources for teaching it.


Career Readiness: Defined

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) refers to career readiness as “the new career currency.” It can be defined as a sort of basis of skills that prepare college students for success in their careers after they graduate.

Academic institutions can use career readiness as a framework for addressing the skills students need to hone during school to succeed in their future careers (regardless of industry) through their curricular and extracurricular involvements. Employers can use career readiness as a measurement tool to determine the competencies of job candidates.

NACE has identified eight major competencies that demonstrate career readiness:

  • Career and self-development
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

Highlighting these areas in their courses gives colleges and universities the unique opportunity to directly target the skills students need for modern-day workplace success. In fact, LeaderU courses recognize the soft skills employers value and cover all eight NACE competencies.


Teaching Career Readiness

To reiterate, the concept of career readiness helps institutions establish practices that prepare their students for life after college. ACT, a trusted leader in career readiness research, recognizes the need for a common language between employers and students – who are their future employees. 

Changing market demands, lifestyle choices, and more have made it difficult for everyone to understand what skills employers need and what skills potential employees have. Utilizing a common language to identify necessary skills can help all parties become “better able to understand how the skills mastered are communicated to industry and translated into productivity.”

This Holistic Framework for workplace success could also inherently enhance education, making it clear to academic institutions what credentials they should be offering their students. ACT’s work provides a comprehensive and integrated picture of education and work readiness to that organizes knowledge and skills in four broad domains

  1. Core academics
  2. Cross-cutting capabilities
  3. Behavioral skills
  4. Education and career navigation skills

Credentials that are high quality, industry-recognized, portable, and transparent can serve as a bridge between the academic landscape and the workplace and fit into this ACT framework.

Just as they teach to the eight NACE career competencies, LeaderU courses similarly consider the dynamic relationship between employers and students. The skill-based courses are designed to thoroughly elaborate upon the knowledge and competencies learners and workers need to know to succeed in the classroom as well as in their careers. 


To learn more about how FranklinCovey’s LeaderU courses can help colleges and universities better prepare themselves for supporting and measuring career readiness, contact us.

How to Create a Powerful Student Leadership Program
On-Demand Panel Webcast


Previous Article
How Credentials Impact the Value of Higher Education
How Credentials Impact the Value of Higher Education

Certificate programs, micro-degrees, and online learning courses are becoming exponentially more available,...

Next Article
How Can Higher Education Institutions Become a Primary Resource for Lifelong Learners?
How Can Higher Education Institutions Become a Primary Resource for Lifelong Learners?

If learning is a lifelong pursuit, then academic institutions must prepare to support those who seek educat...


Questions? Let's Chat.

First Name
Last Name
College or University
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!