Professional Competencies

Know how to be a professional

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Knowledge in Action is an important part of the GW experience. Students have many opportunities to apply what they are learning and develop skills that make them stand out to employers. Students who develop a balance of transferable skills plus job-specific skills and abilities, also known as T-Shaped Professionals, are in high demand by employers.

As part of their Career Success Plan, students carefully consider and continue to develop their professional skills. We help students reflect on the experiences that develop these skills and result in examples that prove they know how to apply their skills and knowledge to get things done.

The Center for Career Services used research by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) to develop the following transferable skills most desired by employers across all industries and sectors.

Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving

Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and solve problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and to demonstrate originality and innovation. 


Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly in person, in writing, and digitally to persons inside and outside the organization. The individual is able to listen and to empathize with others; understands the impact of nonverbal communication; and is able to write and edit workplace documents and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual works effectively within a team structure and can negotiate and manage conflict and change with respect for others.


Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual models leadership skills and is able to navigate workplace ambiguities and clarify expectations; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.


Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, work productively with others, manage time/workload, and understand the impact of communication on professional image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.

Global Perspective

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of cross-cultural and international issues as well as in-country workplace norms and is able to learn and work with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The individual is aware of his/her views about difference, and is able to learn and build on various cultural and community norms.

Technology and Information Management

Demonstrate the ability to select and use appropriate technology to accomplish assigned tasks. The individual is able to manage and use data efficiently to solve problems and is able to learn and adapt to new technologies effectively, in teams and individually.

Career Management

Identify and articulate individual skills, strengths, knowledge, and experience relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take steps necessary to pursue and self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace. The individual is a continuous learner who seeks to expand his/her skills. 

Students can schedule an appointment with our Career Coaches to understand how their skills align with professional roles and create a plan for developing key skills through their courses, student organizations, volunteering, and internships. 

Download a PDF: Career Success Plan and Professional Competencies