How to Get a Job With Your Worthless Degree

posted by Brian Krueger under job search #careers #jobs #majors #education

How can you translate your degree to a career?
How can you translate your degree to a career?

It’s a simple fact of college life: some degrees are more valuable than others when it comes to getting a job. So while your friends may be receiving one, two, three or more offers, you might be stuck with none. And then wondering why you spent so much time and money getting what now appears to be a worthless degree.

But there is hope. Just because your degree does not precisely line up with available jobs doesn’t mean it’s worthless. You are still a college graduate and that alone has value. But you need to take steps to add value and focus to your degree.

The first step is to reverse engineer your job search. Do not start with your degree and look for jobs that align with it. That approach works well for degrees in demand. It doesn’t work when there simply are no jobs (or very few) seeking your degree. Look at what is available first and how your degree and experience may fill those needs. Look more broadly at related jobs. You need to be flexible and do some out-of-the-box thinking.

Here is an example: a college Senior friend I am counseling is gearing up for searching for a job this Fall. But he is getting a degree in Linguistics. There simply are very few jobs as Linguists at the entry level (if at all). So my advice to him is to begin looking at related jobs. There are jobs in language translation, but even in this category, there are relatively few jobs and most require fluency expertise in at least two languages. Where we went next was golden: what about speech recognition and translation? Think Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Translate. This is a huge opportunity and there are relatively few with the necessary education and training to enter this field. Since he still has the opportunity to adjust his schedule in his Senior year, he will be adding language programming classes to his schedule to build out his background. And he will be contacting Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google as well as the dozens of other employers in the speech recognition field. And it turns his otherwise worthless degree into a valuable job market commodity.

A second way to adjust is to add continuing education to your degree. This is a great way to add a specialization to a general degree. This could be in the form of online education or it could be grad school. But don’t go to grad school because you cannot find a job. Go to grad school because it will make you more marketable for your target job and only if it is a requirement for that job. If you are simply having difficulty finding a job, don’t bail to grad school as your cover. Keep looking for a job and get flexible. Open up your geography. Look at jobs in related fields. Be willing to start at a trainee level and work your way up, learning along the way.

Depending on where you are in your college career, either still in college or already graduated, there are steps you can take to make your degree more valuable. Look at the jobs being offered and adjust your resume, adjust your approach and adjust your interviewing to meet these job specific needs. If you need more education to prepare for these jobs, get it. Be market driven rather than product driven.

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