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Arts and humanities graduates can often be concerned about the perceived lack of relevant job opportunities after finishing their studies. However, there are many ways in which arts and humanities students can ensure they are just as employable as students who have studied more applied or vocational courses.
● Focus on key skills employers want:
Relate the skills you have learned and demonstrated in college to what the employer is looking for. The World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report on the future of work in October 2020, which listed Analytical Thinking and Innovation as its top rated skill, with Complex Problem Solving and Critical Thinking and Analysis also making the list. Throughout their degree arts and humanities students have proven they have the ability to analyse and extract the relevant content from huge amounts of seemingly never ending information contained in reports and online.
The important skill of being able to successfully work towards deadlines and under pressure is one that arts and humanities students also have in abundance. Arts and humanities graduates have also gained significant experience in articulating themselves both verbally and in writing. Clear and concise communication of information is also a much sought after skill by employers. To maximise your chances of getting an interview make sure that all of these sought-after skills are mentioned on your CV.
● Many graduate programmes look for graduates from ANY discipline – including arts and humanities!
It is now estimated that 50% of companies recruit graduates from any discipline and do not require graduates to have a subject specific degree. Anyone with a degree can apply to these graduate programmes. Employers will require a quality degree (2.1 or higher). This is primarily because they expect by offering jobs to graduates regardless of the degree subject, they will attract the best graduates from a wide variety of disciplines. They value the diversity of thought that is offered by graduates from an arts and humanities background. You can check if the employer will accept graduates from any discipline by visiting their websites, reviewing advertisements, or by visiting careers fairs and meeting their representatives in person.
● Be focused and think laterally:
Internships and work experience centred on areas similar to your studied course can show employers that you are focused on finding jobs in this field, so choosing a job to apply for once you graduate should not be too different! Finding a job requires focus and your proven ability to think laterally. Many graduates of subjects such as history, politics and sociology have found employment in areas that one would not traditionally expect them to work in. This is partly due to having some of the skills that have been mentioned above – relevant to many kinds of roles. Critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation are important across all sectors, especially at the leadership of these sectors.
There are several humanities graduates who are working in roles that would not be viewed as obvious destinations for humanities graduates – examples include Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of HP who studied medieval history and philosophy at Stanford, David Solomon, the current CEO of Goldman Sachs, who studied political science at Hamilton College in New York and Denis O’Brien, the Irish billionaire and investor, who received a BA in history and politics from UCD!
● Internships and work experience:
Internships can be a great way to build skills in fields you may have an interest in working
in, and this can give you a specific focus on which of these skills will be useful to you and to any future employer. For example, a political science degree could be effectively used to get an internship with a policy firm or a civil service department to build your skills. A language degree could be used to secure an internship with a multinational company requiring your language expertise for its international clients, an international language firm – e.g.
Duolingo, or with an EU department.
Similar to internships, doing relevant in-course placements or work experience will boost your employability credentials when applying for a job after you graduate. You could also do voluntary work to enhance your experience and CV, such as helping charities or other not-for-profit organisations in the area you are passionate about. Through these experiences you will also make valuable contacts and these can help you to get introductions to those who may know of opportunities for you. Remember, over 70% of all jobs are not advertised publicly!