Naturally, when applying for an entry-level position you want to ensure that the employer values the experience you have gained through either your undergraduate or graduate degree. However, in this day and age, where there is an ever-increasing amount of degrees to choose between, you shouldn’t assume that employers necessarily recognise the value of your specific degree. In the following, we sum up how you should sell your degree.
Believe in your degree
The more you actually give credit to the degree you have, the more you’ll be able to market this to potential employers. Regardless of you having gone for a specialised or a general degree, there are significant advantages of both. Having studied a rather specialised degree, such as mechanical engineering and logistics management, benefits students in getting specialised knowledge and a leg up in the market. Recruiters often convey that these graduates are able to distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive job market. The other way around, general educations tend to teach the students to see the “big picture”. They are therefore commonly tailored for a variety of different jobs.
Liberal arts majors often get flack for having “useless degrees” – this is greatly exaggerated considering that few jobs are outside the reach of these graduates. The worst things you can do is hang your head and feel as if you should defend your degree to employers!
Show your passion
You most probably decided to start your education because you were passionate about the programme and the learning possibilities it offered. Expressing passion demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment to employers. Showing dedication towards your major also shows that you, in turn, can become a very dedicated employee. Hopefully, this passion will have extended to your grades – in this case, your academic success can become a major selling point.
Describe what makes your degree commercially valuable
The best strategy to sell your degree is to think from the perspective of the employer. You should be able to describe how you can actually increase a company’s sales, solve their problems and improve their products. While it is important to demonstrate belief, passion and other inspirational rhetoric, it is equally imperative to highlight how you have worked on projects that are directly applicable to the company and the requirements of the role you are applying for. For example, a degree in communications or business may have provided you with the skills to analyse how a company can gain market share.
Your future boss will be less interested in you spending excessive amounts of time looking into brand management theory than he will be in you getting the press release ready for its deadline!
Today, getting hired in entry-level requires fine-tuned skills. Present yourself in terms of the abilities you have gained via your degree and how these relate to your career goals.
By far, the one skill mentioned most often by employers is the ability to listen, write and speak effectively. Students in humanities usually excel in these communication skills.
Other important skills include research skills, technical literacy, multicultural awareness and organisation skills. These are all capabilities that you develop through a large array of different degrees. Consequently, you should be able to describe how your particular major has strengthened your skills.
Your cover letter is an excellent way of touting your skills. Via more narrative language, you have the opportunity to help the employer see how your skills connect with the job in question.
Focus sharply on what you want to do
Your education may qualify you for a wide range of career opportunities. Yet, that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily promote yourself as the jack-of-all-trades. Employers are out to know what your main strengths are, and the more specific you are about this, the more marketable you will be. If you’re somewhat unsure what you want to do, a good idea is to seek help at your school’s career centre. You should also remember that not opening yourself up to every job does not necessarily mean you are committing yourself in one specific field. You can always make a change down the road!