With increasing vacancies for STEM related jobs, liberal arts students might be feeling left behind. If you are in college and would rather study Psychology than Biology, or you prefer World History over Engineering, don’t despair. Employers do value liberal arts skills because you have unique skills to offer. However, if you don’t work on marketing these skills, employers may pass you over. We spoke with Michele Mavi, a job search expert at Atrium Staffing. Michele told us how students can market their liberal arts degree.
College Recruiter: What are liberal arts anyway?
Michele: A liberal arts education is interdisciplinary and while students have a concentration in one subject they have a broad range of requirements that leave a student with a well-rounded view of the world and an understanding of how different disciplines contribute to broader global issues.
How can a liberal arts student make the case that they are employable?
A recent study sited that communication skills are the top skill employers look for in new grads. This is where liberal arts majors excel. Almost all courses of study build communication skills, from the obvious writing and literature classes to modern European history. Liberal arts majors are exposed to coursework in many different disciplines. They are forced to analyze things, conduct research and form opinions. They need to make a case for their point of view and use logic and critical thinking to formulate a compelling viewpoint and then be able to communicate that viewpoint in a way that makes sense, even to someone who might not hold the same opinion. It’s a skill that will take people far in the business world!
Employers value critical thinking skills. Why are liberal arts students better prepared as critical thinkers?
Critical thinking is evident in all courses of study, including both liberal arts and science and math. But in the STEM disciplines, students are searching for answers and they may have to explore many possible paths to find the one that is the correct way. In liberal arts, you have to constantly examine all sides of an issue and form your own opinions based on many different situations. If you’re studying art, for example, you’re not just studying art, you’re also studying history. Not just art history, but world history, as current events always influence the art of its time. There is an interdisciplinary understanding that proves to be very useful in organizations when working with crossfunctional teams and understanding how the needs and demands of each department will affect a project that needs unified participation and buy in.
How else can a liberal arts student or grad market their skills?
Other than communication and critical thinking skills, liberal arts grads are great problem solvers. Because of their ability to step out of an issue and analyze the big picture, they are able to quickly consider and evaluate possible impacts of one course of action vs another. They can assimilate large amounts of information from various departments and make sense of it all and then act quickly and decisively when resolving matters quickly and effectively are of utmost importance. Additionally, they tend to have excellent people skills and are great with clients and developing relationships. Nothing is more important in business than being able to build relationships, both internally and externally.
Michelle Mavi is a professional Relationship Builder, Storyteller and Company Culture Enthusiast. Whether it’s getting to know someone’s individual story by building relationships with candidates and internal employees, or in strategically telling a brand’s story to an audience through the production of video or written content, getting to the heart of the story is where Michele excels. With over ten years of experience as a recruiting and staffing professional, she mixes that knowledge with creative storytelling skills that stem from a background in the theatre to bring about innovative and positive changes for her organization. Connect with Michele on LinkedIn.