3 Things Liberal Arts Majors Need to Know About the Job Market Before They Graduate

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A liberal arts education continues to be a sought-after and versatile avenue of study for college-level learners. For many students today, however, stepping into the job market with a liberal arts degree is fraught with uncertainty about what kind of jobs might be available and how employers may feel about prospects with a broad, liberal arts education. The good news is there are lots of jobs for liberal arts majors. The key to finding them is understanding the job market and how to position yourself to stand out in a crowded field of applicants. Here are some key things to keep in mind.

The Job Market Always Changes

One thing we know for certain about the job market is that nothing stays the same. How it looks today is going to be different from how it looks in the future – and at the current pace of change, that future could arrive even faster than we think. When it comes to the constantly changing landscape of employment, liberal arts majors have at least one advantage over STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students. Remember that as the job market evolves and new skills and ways of thinking are required, your well-rounded education and solid background in critical thinking can adapt to meet the needs of the new market.

How You Market Yourself Matters

Every application you fill out and every interview you land is an opportunity to sell yourself, so make sure you’ve identified your best angles before you put yourself out there. The job market will change and the specialized positions that are available today might not be around tomorrow. When making your pitch to potential employers, emphasize that your liberal arts education means you can apply your skillset in a range of capacities.

The range of topics, approaches, and areas covered by your liberal arts curriculum makes you fundamentally flexible, interdisciplinary, and able to adapt to changing circumstances. Use this adaptability to help potential employers see your broad skillset as an asset rather than a liability.

Be Prepared to Sell Your Soft Skills

The concept of “hard skills” versus “soft skills” is commonly used to differentiate a liberal arts graduate from someone with a STEM degree. In fact, you may already be familiar with the distinction. “Hard” skills lean toward technical know-how like mastering a specific piece of software, while “soft” skills are less quantifiable concepts like critical thinking and the ability to work in teams. You might assume that employers would put a premium on more objective and measurable “hard” skills, but research suggests that’s not necessarily true.

As a job seeker with a liberal arts background, you should be prepared to play up your soft skills and what exactly each of them brings to the table. If a job calls for cross-functional collaboration, independent thinking and analysis, effective communication with different stakeholder groups, and other common yet business-critical capabilities that can’t be measured using numbers and spreadsheets, don’t be afraid to sell yourself.

You Can Always Keep Learning

Another way that liberal arts majors can react more nimbly to a changing job market is by expanding and building upon their undergraduate education and going back to school. In fact, a liberal arts education is often seen as the ideal foundation for those who wish to pursue a Master of Business Administration or improve their marketability by getting a different advanced degree.

Liberal arts candidates may have an advantage when it comes to applying for a graduate programs. Because of their varied education, liberal arts applicants come with the critical thinking skills, writing proficiency, and interdisciplinary understanding that admissions officers value.

 

As a liberal arts major looking for a job, you bring a diverse set of capabilities and experiences to the table. If you understand the market, play to your strengths, and think of your degree as a possible stepping stone to further education, you may be in a great position to have a long and successful working career.

Written by Ashford University staff

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