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How to Get a Job Outside Your Major

A college education is about more than vocational training. During your years at school, you learned how to learn, how to think critically, and how to solve problems effectively. Education is a boon to any career. But upon graduation, your challenge might be to convince employers of that — especially if your college major doesn’t set you on a clear career path.
job outside your major
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Target Growing Occupations/Industries

“Start with a tally of industry sector growth and decline from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” suggests John Wasik at CBS News. “You want to avoid industries that are heading south. According to the BLS, that would be the conventional publishing industry — books, magazines, newspapers — which continues to lose jobs. Most manufacturers are in the same boat.”

Where might you have better luck? STEM and healthcare, to name two growing sectors. But don’t assume you’ll need to retrain in order to fit in: look for jobs that fit your existing skillset in growing industries. (Wasik’s example: technical writing for those with a journalism or English degree.)

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Emphasize Transferable Skills

Liberal arts majors often joke that their degrees are useless on the job market, but that’s really not the case. In fact, employers say that many of the hard and soft skills most lacking in recent grads are precisely the ones that a liberal arts degree provides — e.g., writing, critical thinking, communication, and so on.

Before you sit down to retool your resume, make a list of your transferable skills. You might be surprised to discover how much you really know.

When it comes to career skills, you know a lot more than you think you do.Click To Tweet

Highlight (or Build) Practical Experience

Your goal, as a recent grad embarking on your career, is to build a bridge between your major and your targeted job. To do that, you need to be able to show hiring managers that you can handle the duties and responsibilities of the role.

Look at job listings in the industry and figure out what an ideal candidate should offer. If you see a gap between your profile and theirs, set about filling it. That might mean getting an internship, or volunteering, or taking a related job to gain experience.

Network, Network, Network

Up to 85 percent of job openings are filled through networking. When you’re trying to move into a new field, who you know is even more important.

The good news is that you already have a network, even if you’re not used to thinking of it that way. Your friends, family, former bosses, professors, TAs, etc., are all potential contacts. They’re good resources for building connections and finding opportunities, so don’t be afraid to ask around and let people know what you’re looking for. You never know where the next job lead might come from.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you land a job outside your major? We want to hear from you. Tell us your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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