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Four Tips for Using Your Liberal Arts Degree in Your Job Search

29 May, 2015

When I told my parents I was going to major in Sociology, they wondered, “What kind of job are you going to get with that?” I have to admit, I had to ask myself the same question. But if you are a liberal arts major, I have some good news for you.

Because of the recent job market woes and increased competitiveness, students are frequently told they must obtain a more practical degree (e.g., in business administration, accounting, or finance) that teaches them skills directly correlated to the business environment. However, the number of college seniors who applied for a full-time job and received at least one offer increased in 2014 to nearly 48%. This was thanks, in part, to stronger-than-expected job placement for liberal arts graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

How will you apply the more general knowledge you’ve gained through college? How can you apply that knowledge to your career aspirations? And how can you use your liberal arts degree to successfully secure a job in the business world? Here are four key skills to highlight on your résumé and during your interviews.

Strong writing goes a long way.

Did you just slave over a 20-page paper about the Nature of Evil in The Scarlet Letter? Great. You just developed core writing skills by creating a hypothesis, researching to find supporting facts, and summarizing your key findings concisely.

Many underestimate the use of their writing skills, but they shouldn’t. “In college, I loved to write, but I assumed writing wouldn’t be as important once I graduated,” shared Steven H., one of CEB’s research analysts. In reality, these skills are invaluable in the workplace. “Writing clear and concise e-mails and reports makes a difference in whether your clients—or the people you work with—consume any of your work.” You can apply this skill to any business report, presentation, or even e-mail.

Teamwork is everywhere.

Thought you’d never get anything out of those long stressful team meetings in the library? Think again. Learning to communicate with all types of individuals and adapt to their work styles is key for successful collaboration. You’re going to have to work with a diverse group of people (and clients) in the business world, so learning to compromise and understand different viewpoints will come in handy.

Creativity isn’t only for artists.

Did you love your art class but wonder if it was a good use of your time in college? It certainly was! Being creative and thinking outside of the box are huge advantages in the corporate world. These skills allow you to approach problems or assignments in a unique way and make you stand out from the crowd.

Set those goals.

Did your college friends marvel that you never pulled an all-nighter and always turned in your papers on time? Much can be said for setting a goal and organizing your work to ensure that you achieve it on time. Goal setting in college allowed “to think creatively and strategically about contacting and engaging members with CEB,” stated Ashley S., one of CEB’s account management specialists. Setting and sticking to goals will not only impact your success but also streamline your work and ensure clients (and managers) are happy with your results.

According to a Beyond.com survey, the top three attributes that companies currently look for are a positive attitude (84%), communication skills (83%), and an ability to work as a team (74%). Now that you have developed some of the core skills all employers are looking for, think about your own personal experiences. When have you applied these skills? Be sure to share that information during your next job interview.

Need tips on how to prepare for an interview? Check out CEB’s Interview Toolkit.

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