Based on the most recent follow-up survey for Millikin’s class of 2012, just over 20 percent of graduates reported working in a position unrelated to their college major, while close to 80 percent felt their career was related to their major. If you are among those looking to find a career beyond your academic discipline, the following information may help you focus on the skills needed to land a job.
Whether you are planning a career change or currently looking for a job, it is important to identify the skills a prospective employer is seeking. This information can be obtained by combing through job descriptions and highlighting skills and qualities necessary to succeed in the position. Networking conversations can also provide great insider tips on what it takes to succeed in a particular position or industry (get connected on Millikin’s Mentoring Network ). If needed, step back and explore on O*Net Online and use the advanced search feature, which allows you to explore careers based on areas including interests, knowledge and skills, among other categories. This can help determine other careers that may be a good fit for you beyond your specific area of study.
After determining the skills needed to succeed in the career(s) you are pursuing, reflect not only on your academic work but on all of your marketable skills. Knowing what you have to offer is key. Be aware that there are a variety of skills employers look for that can be developed through a range of experiences. According to the Job Outlook for 2013 published by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the top skills and qualities employers look for in new hires include:
- Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
- Ability to work in a team structure
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems
- Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
- Ability to obtain and process information
- Ability to analyze quantitative data
- Technical knowledge related to the job
- Proficiency with computer software programs
- Ability to create and/or edit written reports
- Ability to sell or influence others
If you can demonstrate to an employer that you have the skills needed to be successful in a position, your major is likely to be of less importance. Better yet, having a non-traditional background may be something you can market to show you are capable of taking a creative approach. However, depending on the career you are pursuing, more specialized education may be needed. But never sell yourself short. Consider the value of the transferable skills you can offer an employer. Your well-rounded Millikin education has likely given you a firm foundation.
By Kristin Nisbet-White, assistant director of the Millikin Career Center