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Levett Career Center

Professional Competencies

In order to successfully apply for a job or graduate school program, you need to have the traits, skills and background that are sought by your targeted field or program, and you need to convince recruiters that you have these qualities. The professional competencies provide you with an overview of the characteristics you need to be well-prepared for your next steps after graduation, allow you to assess your current strengths in these areas, and offer suggestions for improvements.

Get started now! The time and effort required to master the competencies depends on your background, your class year, the clarity of your interests, and your goal itself. Some competencies, such as intellectual skills and transferable skills, are built gradually. Likewise, some, including sense of purpose and gaining experience, need to be begun early; start with these four. No matter what path you choose to pursue, begin chipping away at these early in college so you will be well-prepared to embark on your professional life.

Review each competency to find an assessment tool that helps you measure your current skill level and to get tips for improvement. To benefit most from the tools, try to give an honest and accurate assessment of your strengths on each item.

Professional Competencies that are developed and practiced throughout college:

Intellectual Skills: The ability to think critically, to communicate effectively in oral and written form, to conduct sound research and analysis, and to use technology effectively; and the ability to clearly describe or demonstrate your mastery of these skills to recruiters.

Professionalism and Ethics: An understanding of and the ability to meet the work world's behavioral expectations.

Professional Competencies that should be begun early because later competencies hinge on them:

Sense of Purpose: The ability to articulate your life goals and direction and how these might be expressed through an occupation.

Gaining Experience: The development of self-understanding and work skills through academics, work experience, internships, and extracurricular activities.

Professional Competencies that are career-specific, to be mastered once a goal has been identified:

Transferable Skills: The development of professional skills and knowledge related to your targeted field.

Strong Resume: The ability to research the demands of the targeted field and to develop a document that demonstrates related and valued strengths.

Effective Cover Letter: The ability to identify the ways in which your background matches the requirements of the targeted field and to summarize your strengths thematically.

Interviewing Skills: The ability to clearly describe your strengths relative to the targeted job or graduate school program to a representative of the organization.

Effective Networking Skills: The ability to interact and connect with other people to exchange information, develop contacts, and find career or graduate school opportunities.

Strategic Search Skills: The ability to plan and conduct an effective, sustained search for employment or graduate school admission.