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How to uncover transferrable skills for humanities and arts majors

Liberal arts and performing arts majors, we treasure you. You have cultivated talents that will serve you well, no matter your career path or title. These are skills most employers do not and cannot provide training for, but often make the difference between average and standout employees.

Are you a writer? A critical thinker? These are the two fundamental skills I look for when I hire—everything after that is gravy. I can’t teach these skills, though I may try to model them—I simply don’t have time. I need my direct reports to come fully equipped with the ability to write clearly and convincingly and challenge assumptions with sound reasoning. This way, I can let them work autonomously, giving them the kinds of responsibilities that will help them grow as quickly as they’re able. Strong writing and thinking come in handy for knowledge worker roles that require thoughtful and persuasive communication (Wall Street/industry analysts, marketers, journalists, publicists, researchers, etc.).

Are you a performer? Do you have strong public speaking skills? These skills are highly sought after, as you are likely to be good at giving presentations, facilitating workshops, leading training sessions and convincing people to take action. Performance, rhetoric and public speaking skills are especially useful if you want to be client or public facing (sales, client services, human resources, PR, helping professions, performing arts, etc.). The more comfortable you are speaking in front of others, the more likely you are to have impact and influence in your organization.

Are you creative? Inquisitive? A good collaborator? Companies of all sizes need smart, creative people to help them innovate to respond to or anticipate market needs. Or to help them reach their customers in innovative new ways with appealing and original messages. Creative thinkers who can work collaboratively with others to generate better ideas and bring them to life are very valuable. These days, many jobs require design thinking, which plays to your strengths. Understanding how and why people learn, play, shop and work will enable you design solutions to address their needs, and working well with others will enable you to deliver much better solutions than you could on your own. Creatives who play well with others find themselves at home at ad agencies, design agencies, marketing and brand agencies, in research and development departments of all manner of companies and media companies. Even if you are not an artist, per se, your ability to make things elegantly simple (think data visualization) or consider new ways of doing things will be valuable no matter what field you pursue.

Fear not! Your liberal arts education will serve you well as you venture into the work world, and many employers will appreciate your manifold talents and interesting perspectives. Your task now is to connect the dots for them to ensure that they do. For a creative and skilled communicator like you, this should be a piece of cake!

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