Core Professional Competencies

Through your study of the liberal arts, you develop transferable skills and professional competencies that are most valued by employers and graduate schools. The list of Core Professional Competencies below is a tool you can use to identify ones that you already have, as well as those you wish to develop through “real world experiences” such as internships, volunteering, student activities, and self-directed projects. The idea of becoming a T-shaped professional is one you should think about. That is, a person who is both broad and deep in her knowledge.  Read more about it here. Use the language of these competencies when writing your resume, your employment application, or your essays for graduate school.  Check out this short read in an op-ed in the New York Times about getting a job at Google that highlights these core competencies. Open each of the sections below for specific information:

Artistic and Design Skills

  • Visual and spatial designing
  • Artistic talent
  • Illustrating
  • Mapping
  • Drafting/mechanical drawing
  • Designing comfortable living spaces
  • Designing and/or using audio-visual aids
  • Photographing
  • Strong need for beauty in the environment
  • Excellent taste
  • Creative imaging
  • Operates well in a free environment
  • Fashioning/shaping things
  • Making
  • Redesigning
  • Aware of value of symbolism
  • Creates poetry or poetic images
  • Writing
  • Playwriting
  • Organizing and staging theatrical productions
  • Expressive
  • Ability to use the body to express feelings
  • Musical knowledge and taste

Communication Skills: Reading, Speaking, Writing

Communication Skills: Reading, Speaking, Writing

  • Communicating effectively
  • Ability to explain difficult concepts
  • Summarizing, reporting accurately
  • Very explicit and concise writing
  • Adept at translating jargon to diverse audiences
  • Verbal and linguistic skills in other languages
  • Outstanding writing skills
  • Able to describe so that others can visualize
  • Promotional writing for funding purposes
  • Imaginative advertising and publicity programs
  • Flair for writing reports
  • Skilled speech-writing
  • Composing letters
  • Proofreading, editing
  • Love of reading
  • Relentlessly curious


  • Artistic
  • Literary
  • Innovation

Critical Thinking

  • Identify Problems
  • Gather evidence through research
  • Evaluate options & derive conclusions
  • Quantitative

Cross-Cultural Skills

  • International experience
  • Ability to work in a multilingual environment and multicultural group
  • Knowledge of other ‘cultures’: customs, social, political, religious behaviors
  • Acceptance of different values, beliefs, communication habits, notions of time
  • Understanding of our own attitudes, and when necessary, ability to adapt our practices
  • Respect for difference and diversity

Follow Through/Detail

  • Executing
  • Follow detailed instructions
  • Apply what others have developed
  • Explicit, systematic manipulation of data
  • Troubleshooting
  • Checking work of others
  • Classification and retrieval of data

Human Relations Skills/Helping Others

  • Works well on a team basis
  • Motivates fellow workers
  • Expresses appreciation faithfully
  • Ready willingness to share credit with others
  • Expertise in interpersonal contact
  • Keen ability to put self in someone else's shoes
  • Effective in dealing with many different people
  • Expert in liaison roles
  • Unusual ability to represent others
  • Treating people fairly
  • Shaping the atmosphere of a particular place
  • Sensitive to people's feelings in social situations
  • Helping people with their personal problems
  • Takes human failings/limitations into account
  • Handles difficult people well
  • Caring for/nursing
  • Understands family relationships and problems

Influencing/Persuading Skills

  • Persuading, influencing the attitudes of others
  • Debating
  • Developing targets,building markets
  • Promoting
  • Selling ideas or products
  • Selling to decision makers
  • Recruiting talent
  • Motivating others
  • Adept at conflict management
  • Getting diverse groups to work together
  • Arbitrating/mediating
  • Inspiring trust
  • Encouraging people
  • Helping people identify what their interests

Innovating and Intuitional Skills

  • Able to see commercial possibilities of concepts
  • Applying theory, research
  • Creating products
  • Innovating
  • Willing to experiment with new approaches
  • Strongly committed to experimental approaches
  • Continually developing and generating ideas
  • Forecasting
  • Integrate diverse elements into clear coherence
  • Connect seemingly unrelated issues
  • Ability to improvise on the spur of the moment
  • Deriving things from others' ideas
  • Model developing
  • Possessing imagination and the ability to use it
  • Spatial memory
  • Memory for design
  • Memory for faces