How to market your general studies degree
As a student of the humanities, you’ll study everything from mathematics to social sciences to technology. But how do you make a well-rounded education enticing to employers?
Students who earn a general studies degree need to highlight their “transferable skills” — knowledge that’s useful in almost any industry, advises Maria Jolly, a senior editor in the University of Phoenix Instructional Design and Development Department, who holds a master’s degree in education. Here, she offers four tips on how to pitch yourself for specific jobs:
Use your resumé strategically.
If you’re applying for a job the traditional way, your resumé is usually the first impression hiring managers get of you. So, Jolly says, “students should use their resumés to talk about broader skills, like the ability to think critically, write concisely and construct strong arguments.”
She also recommends considering how your skills can fit into different careers or industries, especially if you desire a particular job. Marketing and sales, for example, require strong written communication skills. In a field like criminal justice, she points out, someone who enjoys public speaking might seek work as a public information officer who handles media inquiries.
In those situations, she notes, “it may take time to write a resumé for each job, but it’s crucial that students show that they have the skills the employer asks for in a job posting.”
Tout your skills through social media.
On the LinkedIn® professional network, you can connect with peers and instructors — and provide prospective employers a bigger picture of your accomplishments than what’s on your resumé. “LinkedIn is a great tool for students because it helps them present their skills, education, special projects, and work or volunteer experience” in a detailed and visually appealing format, Jolly says.
She suggests adding endorsements to your profile from instructors who are familiar with your work.
This is important, she notes, because if you have broad skills but no work experience, you need recommendations from people who can vouch for your specific abilities, especially if you’re targeting a specific field.
Expand on what you know in your cover letter.
Your cover letter should explain how your broad education qualifies you for the job you seek. For instance, Jolly notes, if a job ad talks about working in teams, describe how you successfully collaborated with other students throughout your degree program. Also, call attention to any awards you’ve received if they’re germane to the position for which you’re applying.
Showcase your best work.
In many fields — like web design and communication — looking great on paper isn’t enough. You also have to demonstrate your ability to do the job. But how do you do that when you’re fresh out of college?
Developing a portfolio is key for students who have a range of skills but no work experience, Jolly emphasizes.
She suggests using the WordPress® blogging site, uploading samples of your work to your LinkedIn profile or creating your own website from scratch. “Employers are looking for creativity, passion and motivation,” Jolly says. “Showing projects you’ve completed in class or from a hobby is the best way to express your passion for [the job].”
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