Principal Consultant, Career OverDrive!
There's been a lot of talk and debate over the last few years as to the value of the "'lowly" Liberal Arts degree.
A variety of pundits and talking heads have even gone so far as to argue that there's no value to be had in such a degree, especially when one factors in the direct costs incurred during the course of earning the degree as well as the opportunity costs associated with the four years unemployment typically experienced while the student studies for the degree.
To all of these pundits and all of this punditry I have but one word:
I'm here to tell you that Liberal Arts degree, in and of itself, is most likely fine.
"What? James, are you serious or just totally delusional?! "
Yes, I'm serious and no, I'm not delusional.
There are many reasons why I am certain that the Liberal Arts degree is not a "Death Wish For Careers" which I won't go into at this time, however, it is readily apparent ot me that plenty of value can be extracted from both the pursuit and earning of a Liberal Arts degree. In turn, this acquired and derive value can be used to great positive effect during a Liberal Arts degree-holder's pursuit of professional employment.
And as an aside, plenty of value can also be extracted and shown to a prospective employer by even non-degree holding job seekers/job applicants as well.
Here's The Real Deal In A Nutshell:
The Liberal Arts degree itself is fine, provided that you have studied and learned your subject matter to some basic level of competency but more importantly learned HOW to study when acquiring new information in the future and without direction or prodding from your professor or other authority figure.
Now, reports have come back from many if not most Liberal Arts grads saying how tough a time they face looking for meaningful (versus underemployment or unemployment) employment after having graduated.
There is no doubt that with few exceptions Liberal Arts grads have it harder, but what they face is by no means insurmountable, it's more about filling in a few gaps, buffing out a few dings and learning how to use the value they already have created and possess to their advantage.
For instance, most Liberal Arts majors or grads could greatly enhance their job market value and the buying temperature of prospective employers by simply and quickly adding a few skills which may range from basic tech or analytical skills to work facilitation and work environment skills as well as the job search strategies, tactics and techniques that are needed to wrap around these core or foundational skill sets to land that coveted or desired job.
We've discussed this before but we can never do it enough:
1. Being good at doing the job is not the same as being good at getting a job.
2. It's not the degree you earned that's killing your job search.
What this means is that not all degrees are created equal in terms of the way they are perceived by prospective employers in particular and the job market in general.
This is not good or bad, it is just the way it is. And that's okay. Once we have tuned into reality, we can own it.
Specifically, the less value your degree is perceived to have in the job market or the lower the value that your degree signals or imputes to the job market (and/or the greater the supply of similar candidates in the job market holding the same credential) the greater your skill in understanding and applying the Job Search 4P's* must be.
Specifically, the Job Search 4P's are positioning, packaging, presenting and promoting skills as well as a candidate's ability to communicate and convey value (C&C) to a prospective employer.
Conversely, if you have a "stronger" degree (that is the perceived value of said degree is that stronger or more greatly valued in the job market) or employers clearly understand how to monetize (or have monetized) or they feel they can more readily monetize a particular degree (such as a computer science or business degrees), all things being equal, you'll need far less proficiency in the application of the Job Search 4P's during your job search.
Once you know what you're doing it becomes like shooting fish in a barrel.
If you have one of these higher in-demand, easier to map or more readily communicable degrees and you know how to use the Job Search 4P's like a boss, well, in such a case, you'll quickly find yourself in such high demand that you'll basically lord over and rule the job market.
And that's a very enviable position to be in!
*Just to note, in this case, I use the term Job Search 4P's to describe a set of specialized job search skills as well as one overall job search process. If you are familiar with classical marketing literature there is also the Marketing 4P's which are Product, Place (distribution), Promotion and Price.