My degree doesn’t match the job title I want – what should I do?
Greetings my fellow graduates (or grads to be), here we find ourselves now ‘adulting’ in the real word, which for me mostly consists of dentist appointments, rent/mortgages and spice racks.
By the time graduation rolls around, it wouldn’t be surprising if your career ambitions have shifted to something outside of your degree. Maybe an internship didn’t turn out how you expected, or certain courses dampened your passion for the occupation you thought you wanted to pursue. So, now you’re in a tough spot, where your degree does not quite line up with what it is you want to do.
My advice, do not panic. It’s normal for graduates to change their career direction either before or after university. Furthermore, employers aren’t as hung up on your major as you might think. Once you step off campus, hiring managers / recruiters don’t always concentrate solely on the subject of your degree? They care more about the fact that you have a university degree and you stuck it out until graduation day.
After you’ve secured the honour to pop letters beside your name after university, it’s now time to convince a potential employer to hire you, regardless of what your degree is in. These five steps can help you start off on the right foot.
Pick a career, any career
Hopefully by the end of your time at university, you know what you don’t want to do, but before diving into your job search, you need to determine what it is you do want to do. Your best play could be to identify what industries are hiring and what skills are in demand. Or begin by gaining entry level experience in your chosen arena, be that legal, education, marketing or finance, and give yourself a taster period to see whether the sector floats your boat.
Figure out if you’re qualified
Once you’ve narrowed your search to one field, assess whether you meet the basic requirements to get hired in that industry. If you’re looking to break into a specialised industry (e.g., nursing), you might have to take more college courses before you can start applying to jobs.
If you don’t want to commit to a full-length internship, you could shadow an employee for a week. In recent years, a growing number of students are using short-term shadowing experiences to get a taste for what jobs are like. Shadowing can also be a great networking opportunity.
Build your network
Although you don’t have a degree in the field you’re pursuing, you don’t have to build a network from scratch. Tap your school’s alumni database and go on informational interviews to learn more about the industry. Maybe reach out to employees with around five years of experience. You don’t want to contact a CEO or MD who hasn’t looked for a job in 10 years, and you don’t want an entry-level employee who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the industry yet.
If you’re looking at jobs in other cities, don’t be afraid to do informational interviews by Skype or phone. Joining professional associations and attending industry events can also help build your network.
Leverage your transferable skills
Though the syllabus you learned does not match the job you’re after it does not mean you haven’t soaked up universal skills like writing, problem solving, verbal communication and organisation. If you took a leadership role on a class project, you may even have some project management skills in your back pocket. These transferable skills make you pretty marketable to employers.
Hone your industry knowledge
To show employers you’re worth hiring, you need to prove that you’re knowledgeable about what’s going on in the field. And while that’s a good idea for every job seeker, it’s especially crucial if you don’t have relevant education or internship experience. Stay current by subscribing to company newsletters, reading industry media outlets and following prospective employers on social media.
What have we learned?
It is completely normal to change your mind on what it is you want after university. Look at me, a law graduate who is now in recruitment (and loving every second by the way). Not everyone’s career path after university is a straight road leading to one singular job, most of us are on a winding, whirling road where opportunities pop out of the blue which lead onto unforeseen potentials!
Good luck in your job search!