10 Essential Skills

10 Essential Skills for Achieving Career Success

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, almost three out of four employers reported difficulties in finding candidates with the necessary workforce skills required to excel in the workplace.

In addition to the specialized knowledge gained from a valuable college education, these 10 Essential Skills have been identified by workforce professionals as crucial skills that all graduates should possess to succeed in their chosen fields of study.

Focusing on these essential skills and integrating them into your college experience will prepare you for the competitive job market and set yourself up for a successful and fulfilling career. Gaining these skills is an ongoing process that requires active engagement and a willingness to learn and grow. Participate in various activities, seek feedback, and embrace challenges to develop these essential skills. 

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Communicate effectively by listening, weighing influencing factors, and responding accurately and professionally. Express thoughts coherently in writing, orally, and in formal presentations.

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Critical Thinking

Thinking critically to solve problems and generate new ideas and solutions. Evaluate assumptions and assess information to make informed conclusions. Think creatively by combining ideas in original ways or developing new ways of addressing issues.

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Quantitative Reasoning

Apply quantitative reasoning skills to analyze and solve problems. Provide solutions guided by data choosing the best methodologies for arriving at informed conclusions.

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Cultural Competency

Reflect on personal cultural identities, appreciate cultural and intellectual differences, and effectively interact with people from diverse backgrounds. Collaborate, communicate and work respectfully with people with different perspectives, ideas and cultural beliefs.

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Adapt to changing circumstances while leading and supporting others. Accept change and find effective ways to work and thrive in different settings. Motivate others in the pursuit of a common goal and coach others in the pursuit of this goal. 

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Perform professionally within chosen field of study or occupation. Adhere to the code of ethics in chosen profession and act with honesty and fairness. Prioritize tasks, time management, take initiative, and demonstrate accountability and reliability.

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Civic Engagement

Engage in civic life (political, social, and other involvement) to address issues that benefit and improve society.

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Teamwork & Collaboration

Collaborate effectively with colleagues, handle conflicts, and become a valuable team member.

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Applied Learning

Demonstrate evidence of applied and integrated learning. Articulate and apply the theoretical content of academic preparation with relevant knowledge and abilities essential to chosen career.

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Informed Decision-Making

Identify, evaluate, and responsibly use information for decision making. 


While this list is not inclusive of all the skills that employers value, it represents the most frequently identified qualities supported by research and advocated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the Quality Assurance (QA) Commons, and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), among others.

*Kentucky Graduate Profile | http://cpe.ky.gov/ourwork/kygradprofile.html