Leveraging the Skills Learned from your Liberal Arts Education to the Job Market

Many employers look for soft skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, oral and written communication, creativity, and teamwork, which are all common skills developed in liberal arts programs. These soft skills demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility as well as the ability to apply these skills in real-world settings. A liberal arts education prepares students to examine ideas from multiple points of view, solve problems, adapt, and collaborate. In addition, students who are involved in additional high impact practices such as volunteering, interning, shadowing, or working part-time can connect their experiences to the soft and hard skills learned in academia and further gain an advantage in the job market.

The key to success in the job market for liberal arts graduates is to translate these skills into the professional role they are applying to. It is important for students to make the knowledge learned from their academic major applicable and relevant to their application materials, including resumes, cover letters, and interviews. English majors, for example, can point out that their strong oral and communication skills can translate to writing grant proposals and talking on the phone with clients. Students should also highlight their initiative to gain skills outside their major. 

Isabel Sperry (January 25, 2017) from firsthand.com points out that the benefits of a liberal arts degree is that it affords you the ability to explore many areas of study. For example, history majors who were interested in a career in sales could take a psychology class to gain a better understanding of human behavior. Another point she makes that can be relevant for liberal arts students is that they need to demonstrate their knowledge of the industry and profession they are applying to, especially if their major doesn’t prepare them for it. “That means everything from being able to discuss the company’s core business to understanding its key competitors. Do your research in advance to give the best impression of yourself possible.”

Lastly, articulating skills as they relate to the job market is probably the most important thing that we, as career coaches do with our students. Liberal arts graduates can get full time jobs that pay enough to cover for the costs of living. The trick is for students to articulate their skills, strengths, and experiences in a way that employers can see value in them. Make an appointment with us on Handshake.

By Ozzy Girit Heck (Ph.D.)
Ozzy Girit Heck (Ph.D.) Career Success Program Specialist