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How to Land a Great Job Even if You Have a “Useless” Degree

Woman graduating with a useless degree

Even if you rarely see want ads calling for a degree in comparative literature, you can still launch a successful career no matter what you majored in. Careful planning and creative thinking will lead you to the best job opportunities for you.

If you’re stumped on how to look for a job with a degree that everyone says is useless, try these suggestions.

Preparing for Your Job Search

1. Research your options.

Your future direction probably is less clear than if you studied engineering. Interviewing others and taking an aptitude test will help you find what kind of work you’re suited for. Your college placement center will likely have such testing available.

2. Explore nonprofits.

While some corporations hire liberal arts majors as well as MBAs, other organizations may be targeting candidates just like you. Look up charities and professional associations that match your interests.

3. Review your accomplishments.

Draw on your activities outside the classroom and the office.

woman evaluating accomplishments for a resume

Maybe you’ve excelled in leadership or financial management by serving as chairperson of your theater group or keeping the books for your local animal shelter.

4. Create a portfolio.

Assemble work samples that will show an employer what you can contribute. Put together writing samples, videos, and other resources.

Conducting Your Job Search

1. Project confidence.

Speak enthusiastically about your philosophy studies. Either your potential employer will appreciate your individuality or you’ll keep looking for a culture that’s more compatible for you.

2. Choose keywords carefully.

Automated searches may make it more difficult for employers to find you if your background is less oriented to their keywords. Edit your resume to include widely used terms in your chosen field.

3. Forget about training.

The job market has gotten tougher for recent graduates. These days many companies demand new hires that will start performing on day one. Downplay your eagerness to learn unless the interviewer seems enthusiastic about the idea.

4. Look into internships.

Internships are a great way to learn on the job. Clarify your responsibilities and inquire about any available stipends.

5. Focus on communications and problem-solving.

Two employees communicating and solving problems at work

Most human resources studies suggest that these are the top two highly valued skills. Rehearse short stories you can tell about the favorable feedback you received as a graduate teaching assistant. Discuss how you found a less expensive venue for your chess club’s monthly meetings.

6. Showcase additional skills.

Many positions also require strengths in reading, writing, and logic. Think about how you can apply your current expertise in new contexts.

7. Network vigorously.

Networking is always your best bet. Ask others how they arrived at their present position. You may find some great ideas.

Additional Suggestions

1. Think long-term.

Look at entry-level jobs as one stage in your career path. Getting your foot in the door opens up more possibilities. Analyze any job offer in terms of its growth potential.

2. Head back to school.

Earning an advanced degree has many advantages in some fields. With a Master’s degree or a doctorate, you may be able to teach or do consulting work.

3. Sign up for training.

On the other hand, you may decide that you’re ready for job-specific training. A community college or training center can prepare you to earn a good salary in many trades while you read psychology books at night.

4. Work for yourself.

Pursuing the studies you love without getting discouraged by tuition costs and employment figures proves your determination. Apply that resolve to starting your own business or doing freelance work.

A university education does so much more than prepare you for a job. Learning develops communication and thinking skills that enrich your entire life. Your degree in history or film can help you succeed in the workplace and everywhere else you go.


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