Do Executive Search Firms Offer Prospects For Humanities Graduates?

If you are a humanities graduate, you are all too familiar with the statistics on job placements for people with liberal arts degrees. While it’s a hot employment market for those in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), those in liberal arts have less clear prospects. What do humanities graduates have to offer the job market? Can executive search firms help them find placements?

The Irony Of Employer Rejection Of Humanities Candidates

This job market’s rejection of humanities candidates is an irony in a way, as even more technical college majors that impart specific skills don’t completely prepare a candidate for a job. Even someone who comes into a firm with a degree in accounting or engineering has to figure out how what they learned in academia applies in the real world. Many careers do not require a specific academic background.

As one corporate CEO noted in a University of Illinois publication, “The skills we are looking for in graduates are not specific to a machine or industry. We want young workers who can read, write, compute, pick up new skills quickly and equally, and interact cooperatively with others. These are the skills of a liberal education, not the specific skills of a vocational education.”

What the executive quoted above did not mention is that liberal arts candidates cannot only offer the basics, but also insights, interpersonal skills, ways of thinking, and a worldview that is different than what technical graduates offer. While you might not want to hire a French major without engineering training to work as an engineer in a corporation, this person might be a useful addition to the staff if your company transacts business internationally.

executive search firmsWhat Humanities Graduates Offer The Job Market

Many technology companies are getting the message that hiring people with varied backgrounds opens new possibilities for them to build their business. For example, recently, a Stanford University graduate, was employed at Google based on her unusual major. Her degree in Symbolic Systems included some coursework in computer sciences, but for the most part, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and linguistics were the meat of her major. Why Google wanted her was because they thought her background might help them develop more user-friendly interfaces on their software.

Industry specialists predict that eventually more companies will get the message about what humanities graduates can offer and will alter some of their search criteria for incoming resumes. As it is now, resumes that show finesse in writing, language, history, and other liberal arts don’t make it as far through the employment system as those touting degrees in math or science. By automatically eliminating candidates with varied backgrounds from consideration, companies are cutting themselves off from a deep well of potential employees.

How Executive Search Firms Can Help

If you are a graduate in a liberal arts field, there are some steps you can take until more companies catch on.

  • If you are studying liberal arts subjects such as history or sociology, be sure to also acquire some computer skills in the process.
  • Also, while the pressure to earn money during school may be great, taking an internship or doing volunteer work in a field in which you might want to work could benefit you later.

By the time you are ready for a job, you might have proved yourself at the company where you did your internship, or acquired some experience in working within a corporate structure.

Since your background in humanities offers you training in some soft skills that employers might want, you need to learn to properly frame your resume so that your talents are apparent. If you are thinking of using an executive search firm to help you find a placement, they may be able to offer resume tips. While some executive search firms do not cater to fresh college graduates, there are other services that can help you prepare to secure positions earlier in your career. Once you have more experience, you may find executive search firms a better fit for the mid- and upper-level positions they often specialize in.

 

As a leading executive search firm in Milwaukee, the Lawler Group is part of the international MRINetwork that places highly-qualified candidates in top jobs around the world. Working with both employers and candidates, the Lawler Group has more than 40 years of experience in creating successful partnerships.