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Does Your Degree Disqualify You?

April 14, 2017

It’s hard to believe that at the age of 18, society expects you to decide what career you want to have for the rest of your life. You’ve just graduated high school and suddenly a great deal of responsibility, even aside from career paths, has fallen into your lap. That said, if you feel that you chose the wrong major, you are definitely not alone.

Gain experience in your original field

If you are fresh out of college, it may be wise to temporarily pursue a job in the field you majored in. By doing this, you will gain experience in the workforce. After some time, you’ll be able to figure out how the skills you’ve learned on this job can best transition into the job you’d like to attain in the future. Sara, a hiring expert at Grace offers this advice:

“I understand your dilemma, in my undergraduate studies I could not decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and completed two majors. My graduate studies are in another discipline all together, but I have found a way throughout my career to use what I have learned and apply it to my current positions. I have taken opportunities that marry both interests together.” 1

Gaining experience to put on your resume will give you a huge leg up. One you acquire certain skills and gain some overall knowledge of the business world, you’ll have a much better idea of how these traits can prove beneficial to an organization in the field you want to be in.

Your resume is an advertisement for yourself, and your audience is the hiring manger. So find a way to highlight your best and most relevant skills that you’ve learned on the job. For example, if you have a degree in education, you probably have excellent leadership skills. That is a valuable skill in any industry.

Use your skills and network

It is likely your degree has taught you valuable skills that can easily be marketed as valuable for the career you currently seek. Also, any internships or previous experience you might have will be a major aid to you. Set your resume up so that it boasts the accomplishments that are going to stand out to the recruiter you are trying to impress. Deanna at HPE adds:

“Highlighting any and all of your related skills and experience is key.  Attaining an academic degree is one way to learn the skills necessary to start a career, but other ways exist as well - such as niche classes, internships, work experience, etc.  Look at how you communicate your attributes and focus first on your applicable experience and skills for the job of interest.  Highlight what you have done and what you have attained.” 2

Internships and online classes are a great way to expand your knowledge of the field that you wish to break into. If you’ve already participated in either of these, be sure to put them in a prominent place on your resume. Having work experience in general will give you an advantage as well. This gives you an opportunity to speak to your work ethic and what parts of your previous jobs you liked, be sure to stress aspects that are valuable to the company you are applying to.

Another avenue to use to your advantage is your own personal network. Just because you are moving away from your original career path, doesn’t mean that you haven’t met key people who can help you as you make this change. Think outside of school as well, you may have met someone in your community who’s got a great connection. Sports groups, volunteer groups, church organizations, and the like can be an amazing network to tap into. Marisella at American Express gives this additional insight:

“Remember that keeping yourself open to new ideas and opportunities may open up new doors that you may have not considered in your career path. I also highly suggest utilizing your professors, career services, and peers to leverage opportunities at organizations you are most interested in. Often times career services provides assistance to students even after they have graduated to assist with securing desired employment. Building a presence on LinkedIn is also important so potential recruiters can contact you about new opportunities as they become open.” 3

LinkedIn is an excellent way to expose yourself to the right people and conversations. You can easily find a group that is within the industry you're aiming for and see what others are sharing. Unlike other social media platforms, most people on LinkedIn do share relevant content that you can use to educate yourself further. This is also a great way to prepare yourself for possible topics that could be brought up in an interview.

Second guessing your major isn’t the end of the world. Most people in their late teens and early twenties have no idea where they’ll end up for the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s not uncommon for entry-level job applicants to get an opportunity outside of their degree. Build up your experience and harness your network to give yourself credibility. While getting a job that ties into your degree would be nice, life isn’t always that easy to plan for.


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