What to do if you want a job that is unrelated to your major was originally published on College Recruiter.
The countdown to graduation brings with it a variety of feelings. Excitement. Pride. Relief. But if your career aspirations don’t align with your chosen major, you might also be grappling with a hefty dose of uncertainty or even fear.
Graduating and stepping into the real world is daunting enough without the added stress of switching professional lanes. But fear not. Your college major does not define your career path and it certainly does not define who you are or the value that you can bring to your future employers. But those employers, especially the first one you work for, will likely consider your major when trying to sort out in their minds whether you are more likely to be highly productive than any of the other candidates who have applied for that same role. It is up to you — not the employer — to convince them of that.
Self-Assessment: Identify Your Transferable Skills
A college education provides more than just knowledge in a specific field. It equips you with a plethora of transferrable skills that can be invaluable across various industries. Critical thinking, problem-solving, time management, and communication skills are all valuable assets regardless of your occupational field.
Firstly, identify the transferable skills you’ve gained from your major. Whether you majored in English, Engineering, or Economics, each discipline cultivates a unique set of skills that can be beneficial in other fields. For instance, if you studied Philosophy, you have likely developed strong analytical skills. If you majored in Art, you might be particularly creative and adept at thinking outside the box. Recognizing these skills is the first step towards marketing yourself effectively in a new field.
Self-Exploration: Find Your Passion
What’s driving you away from your major and towards something else? Perhaps it’s a newfound interest, a latent passion, or a lifelong dream that’s only recently become clear to you. Whatever it is, it’s essential to identify this driving force and understand it fully.
Consider how this passion aligns with your personality, values, and long-term goals. Conduct informational interviews, watch webinars, and read about the industry you’re interested in. You might want to try taking career assessment tests to further understand your interests and skills.
Upskilling: Equip Yourself with the Necessary Tools
Education does not end with your college graduation. If you wish to transition into a different field, it might require you to learn new skills or gain additional knowledge. Online platforms such as Coursera, edX, and LinkedIn Learning provide courses across a vast range of subjects. These courses, often taught by industry professionals, can equip you with relevant skills and even offer certification upon completion.
Consider looking into internships, part-time jobs, or volunteering opportunities in your desired field. These provide practical experience and can significantly boost your resume. Plus, they often offer a foot in the door and may lead to full-time opportunities. At any given time, there are millions of these opportunities advertised on College Recruiter.
Networking: Forge Valuable Connections
Networking is a critical element of job hunting, regardless of your situation. Attending industry-specific events, joining professional associations, and making connections through platforms like LinkedIn can open doors that would otherwise remain closed.
Never underestimate the power of a referral or a good word put in by a connection. Plus, networking isn’t just about finding a job — it’s also a way to learn from those already in the field you aspire to join. They can offer insights, advice, and firsthand accounts of the challenges and rewards that come with the job.
Tailoring Your Application: Highlight Relevance
One possible reason for your rejections might be that your applications aren’t speaking the language of your desired industry. To make an impression, it’s essential to tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for.
Make sure you highlight your transferable skills, relevant coursework, projects, or experiences that align with the job description. This requires careful reading of the job description and understanding what the employer is seeking. If you’ve done any courses or gained any experience (through internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, etc.) in the new field, be sure to highlight these.
Even if you don’t have professional experience, find experiences in your academic or personal life that can show off your skills. For instance, you might have led a project for a student organization or handled a challenging situation while volunteering. Use these experiences to demonstrate your leadership, problem-solving, or other relevant skills.
Some employers require cover letters to be included with applications, but most either have stopped accepting or made them optional. If you can submit a cover letter, do. The worst-case scenario is that the particular recruiter who looks at your resume won’t choose to read it. But, if they do read it, what you put into the cover letter should help them understand your story. Use it to explain your passion for the new field, why you’re making the transition, and how your skills and experiences make you a strong candidate.
Perseverance: Stay Resilient and Keep Applying
Rejection can be demoralizing, but it’s important to remember that it’s part of the process. Everyone faces rejection, even those who eventually land their dream jobs. The key is to remain resilient, reflect on each experience, learn from it, and continue to improve.
Solicit feedback wherever possible. If you get rejected after an interview, politely ask the interviewer for feedback. While not everyone will respond, those who do can provide invaluable insights. If your applications are consistently being rejected without an interview, consider getting a career coach or a trusted professional in your network to review your application materials and provide constructive criticism.
Preparation: Get Ready for the Interview
At some point, probably sooner than later, you’ll start to land interviews. When you do, it’s crucial to prepare for the interviews thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with common interview questions and prepare your answers. Since you’re transitioning from a different field, you should be ready to answer questions about this decision convincingly.
Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses to behavioral questions. It allows you to share concrete examples of how you’ve applied your skills in the past.
Lastly, remember to showcase your passion for the new field and your willingness to learn and grow. Companies value candidates who are adaptable and eager to learn.