Do you have a degree in ancient Roman politics? Did you major in Latin studies, or are you an expert in South American literature? If you’ve earned a degree in a subject that’s off the beaten path, you may have had an ‘uh oh’ moment when looking for a job.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how to market degrees that naysayers may declare as ‘useless’.
Unfortunately, specialising in unique and interesting subjects may get you an invitation you to a dinner party, but may not land you a job. While stimulating, such degrees are likely just not relevant to anything that’s happening in the business world today.
But according to a May 2013 report in the US-based business news website Harvard Business Review, there are some helpful strategies you can use, at interviews and networking events, that might help you get through the door:
1. Emphasise your skills, not your content expertise
You may have received your degree in a field like philosophy or moral studies, which may make it difficult for you to get a paying job. Instead of focusing on what you studied, focus on the skills you picked up along the way. For instance, reading long, obscure texts would have honed your reading skills, helped you develop careful comprehension, and given you the ability to write tight, logical arguments. Those skills translate well in any workplace.
2. Position yourself
Swedish-American writer and entrepreneur Frans Johansson argues in his book, The Medici Effect, that the best ideas come from interdisciplinary intersections. So, focus on the fact that you’re ‘differently’ qualified, and that your unique perspective may be just what the company needs.
3. Cite your work experience
Any valuable real-world credentials you’ve accumulated while working in university, during internships, and after graduation, will appeal to potential employers. If you’ve led projects or events, it speaks to your leadership and organisational skills. If you’ve tutored students to help improve their English, it shows your persistence and ability to bridge cultural divides. Such skills are incredibly powerful and worth sharing.
4. Make connections
In a world where business is driven by personal connections, use your expertise to engage meaningfully with others. You’ll be surprised to find how interested people are, and how keenly they’re willing to share personal stories, once they realise you have a shared interest – whether it be in British literature, geography or any other field.