I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some variation of the phrase:
“I majored in _______, therefore I feel my career options are limited.”
That statement is not only illogical, but it couldn’t be further from reality. Regardless of what it says on your degree, you could and should still relentlessly pursue your professional interests. Though, if you want to be successful in chasing those dreams, you are going to have to learn how to write an above-average resume.
Below, I am going to touch upon a new way to approach the process.
Prior to diving into the topic, I’ll give you one fact: if they’re smart, hiring managers tend to care more about character, future potential, knowledge and work ethic more than your major.
Your job search is a business:
Many entry-level job seekers are unsure whether their resume, college major, internship experience or expertise (or combination of the four) is preventing them from getting the interviews they want. The majority of the time, it’s not their major or internship experience that needs improvement, but rather it’s their resume or the skills they possess.
To pinpoint if it’s you or your resume or knowledge (i.e. skill-set) that requires alteration, it’s most effective to think of your job search as a business. In order to achieve success, a business must have a product that is in demand and a strong as well as a compelling marketing message or sales pitch. In this case, that product is the skill(s) you offer to employers. Your resume is the equivalent of your marketing pamphlet or sales pitch. Prior to formulating marketing material (i.e. your resume), you must first understand the needs and concerns of your target clients.
Once you comprehend what they want, you can determine if your product needs improvement (i.e. you need to learn more skills) or your marketing message (i.e. your resume) needs tweaking.
Going into an unrelated field:
The more unrelated your major is to the job you desire, the more you are going to have to learn on your own. For instance, let’s assume a psychology major is seeking an entry-level marketing job in the pharmaceutical industry.
It’s likely that the individual is going to have to teach themselves skills such as search engine optimization, PPC as well as become familiarized with content management systems (i.e. WordPress). At that point, their resume could say:
“Strong knowledge of key online marketing facets such as SEO, pay per click modeling and content generation.”
By gaining key knowledge in those areas, they put themselves on the same level (if not above) the students who majored in that area.
99% of the time, a hiring manager will be less concerned with someone’s major and more concerned as to whether they can do the job. Your resume should reflect that you have the skills to do that work. Your knowledge should be displayed front and center in easy to read, bulleted and occasionally bolded text.
The steps to follow:
Like I stated prior, the entire foundation of writing a strong entry-level resume begins with knowing who your audience is and what they want. In order to write the perfect resume, there are 5 simplistic steps:
- Define what kind of job you want and what industry you want it in – the more specific you get, you easier it becomes to learn an industry as well as become familiarized with the skill and resume preferences of the employers.
- Carefully read the job descriptions associated with that job and vertical – the majority of the time, this document will provide you insight into how the employer thinks, whether you are a potential fit for the position as well as how to tweak your resume to get their attention. Never skim, rather closely examine the document. Utilize your critical thinking skills in order to gain insight from the perspective of the employer.
- List the skills those employers desire – take the time to write down (or type) the exact areas of knowledge necessary. When you focus on one industry at a time, you will quickly see which skills are of top, medium and low priority to target employers. Then, proceed to #4.
- Take the time to study and learn the skills you don’t possess – for instance, many marketing jobs will want CMS (content management systems) experience or knowledge. Hit the books and learn how to program WordPress. By doing so, your resume will have the right skills and will put less emphasis on your college major.
- Put those skills front and center in your resume – at this moment in time, begin to alter your resume. Using bullet points to clearly point out your acquired skills. Put your major at the bottom of the resume so the hiring manager can focus more on what’s important to that employer and less on your school major which is not an indicator of your success potential at the majority of organizations.
In the long run, your college major does not matter as important as many recent graduates take it to be. It will only prevent you from getting the job you want if you let it.