Whether you are about to graduate from college or have been in the work trenches for years, finding a good job is not easy. And if you have a liberal arts degree, it can feel even harder.
But if you read my earlier post about job hunting as a liberal arts major, you know that humanities majors DO have great job skills that apply to just about any field.
Re-brand your skill set
Our degrees give us a whole host of useful skills. But if you’re applying for a job that doesn’t ask for a humanities degree, don’t put your education near the top of your resume.
Instead, create a section for the key skills sought in the job description. These might be traits you don’t associate with your humanities degree — “Technical Skills,” Leadership,” “Finance Experience,” or “Project Management.”
Don’t panic! Show that you have the capacity to do whatever is being asked. For example:
- you need to know an industry-specific software tool; is there a similar tool you HAVE used?
- you don’t have the technical background, but you do have analytical skills, such as problem solving, research, organizational, editing, and computer experience (MS Office, design programs, online learning, etc…).
- you’ve had to write about very technical, complex subjects in a clear, understandable way
- you’ve never been a manager, but you’ve led group projects in graduate school or you started a club in college and kept it going for four years
- you run your own online business (such as etsy or selling ebooks) and handle all the finances
- you’ve increased your blog traffic 40% over the past two years
Re-brand your unique experiences to show you CAN do the job.
Highlight your liberal arts gems
You have the “soft skills” so many employers are looking for. List these in a special section called “Key Skills” near the top of your resume. Here are some examples:
- Critical Thinking Skills (from all those books you’ve analyzed and essays you’ve had to write!)
- Creative Problem Solving
- Conflict Resolution (group work, tutoring, juggling academic projects…)
- Interpersonal Communication
- Relating to Diverse Groups of People
- Written Communication
- Oral communication (if you had to give a lot of presentations and/or taught)
- Research and Active Listening
- Teamwork and Working Individually
- Discipline and Juggling Multiple Projects (especially if you got good grades!)
- Organization and Planning
- Passion for Learning (you’re a liberal arts major!)
Tailor your list to the job description. For example, if the job requires interaction with the public, you could label your section “People Skills” or “Communication Skills.”
Format your resume so it looks professional.
Look at examples of resumes in the field you’re applying for and match the style and tone leaders in the industry use. Use the appropriate jargon and keywords of that profession. A few guidelines:
- use bullets, rather than paragraphs (unless you include a short personal statement/objective at the beginning of your resume)
- if you capitalize one bullet, capitalize them all (and vice versa)
- if you put a period at the end of one bullet, do them all (and vice versa)
- start all your bullet list items in the same way — for example, with action verbs
- all headings should be the same style and size; all body text should be the same
- print out your resume so you can see how it looks on paper
- margins should not be more than 1-inch, otherwise it looks like you’re trying to fill up space
Good luck, and please leave a comment with your suggestions and experience tailoring your resume!