Education, employment, Job search

You’re a humanities major. Now what?

If  you have an English degree like me (or pretty much any liberal arts degree), you have likely heard the same comments from people with “useful” degrees in computers or accounting about how hard it will be for you to find a “real” job.

So, what do you do? The good news is that we humanities majors have lots of excellent skills that transfer into many different fields. With our capacity for critical thinking, organization, and written communication, we’re like the chameleons of the professional world.

Here’s a five-step process to help you find a career that pays actual money!

1. Find your focus. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with the general field you’re interested in — healthcare? Publishing? Law? Would you like to work at a university setting? Consider if you want a private sector, nonprofit, or government job. All three categories have advantages and disadvantages. Typically, private companies pay higher, while state and federal jobs tend to have better benefits packages and can be more stable. Nonprofit jobs may allow you to work in a field you’re passionate about — say, the environment or helping children.

2. Start a targeted search. If you know specific companies or organizations you’d like to work for (perhaps a nearby hospital is known for great benefits), start there. Otherwise, go to a job site (like LinkedIn or indeed) and search with humanities-related keywords of skills that are in demand, including “research,” “written communications,” “critical thinking,” “logistics,” and “project management.”

3. Take note of recurring job titles. Maybe you’ve been targeting universities and notice that “recruiter” type positions keep popping up for your skill set. Or you’re interested in a private sector job and the word “management” keeps appearing in your search results. Research those job titles that keep recurring to learn more.

4. Add any missing technical skills. Each industry uses specific software for its day-to-day operations, whether that’s an invoicing tool or an online teaching platform. As you’re researching job titles, take note of the tools you need to learn (or at least be aware of). Your local community colleges may teach the exact course you need, or you could try a site like www.udemy.com for online classes.

5. Update and “reboot” your resume to match that job title and industry.  Research the culture of the field and make sure your resume reflects that same style — in word choices and layout. Look at examples of others’ resumes in the same industry to make sure yours isn’t way off base.

If you need help, there are lots of professionals out there who can tailor your resume to help you land that job. Local colleges and universities may have career services open to the public, and your library likely has free resources, too!