Steps to Getting a Job Unrelated to Your Degree

Employers aren’t hung up on what you studied—but they’ll still need some convincing to extend you a job offer.

Steps to Getting a Job Unrelated to Your Degree

Getting a job unrelated to your degree isn't impossible.

To graduate on time, you probably needed to declare your major by your sophomore year. But by the time graduation rolls around, it wouldn’t be surprising if your career ambitions have shifted to something outside of your major and now you’re wondering about getting a job unrelated to your degree.

Perhaps an internship didn’t turn out how you expected, or certain courses dampened your passion for the occupation you thought you wanted to pursue. So, now you’re in a tough spot, where your degree doesn’t quite line up with what it is you want to do.

The upshot? There’s no need to panic. Lots of students switch career direction. Furthermore, employers aren’t as hung up on your major as you might think. A degree in something is better than no degree at all.

After you’ve secured a diploma, it’s time to convince a potential employer to hire you, regardless of what your degree is in. These five steps can help you start off on the right foot, and be sure to check outMonster's grad site for more great info.

Steps to Getting a Job Unrelated to Your Degree

1. Identify Possible Career Choices

You know what you don’t want to do, but before diving into your job search, you need to determine what it is you do want to do. A good play is to identify what industries are hiring and what skills are in demand and see what’s out there that interests you. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook—which publishes job descriptions, salary information, and hiring forecasts for more than 300 occupations—is a fantastic resource.

Another option is to take a career test to see where your interests and personality traits overlap with certain jobs.

2. Figure Out if You’re Qualified

Once you’ve narrowed your search to one or two fields, assess whether you meet the basic requirements to get hired in that industry. If you’re looking to break into a specialized industry (e.g., nursing), you might have to take more college courses before you can start applying to jobs. Otherwise, you likely won’t require additional training.

Want to work in a niche industry that demands specialized skills? You might need internship experience first; volunteering can also help you gain these skills before you attempt getting a job unrelated to your degree. But if you don’t want to commit to a full-length internship, you could try shadowing an employee for a week. Short-term shadowing experiences can give you a taste for what jobs are like before deciding whether or not to pursue them. (Shadowing can also be a great networking opportunity.)

3. Build Your Network

Although you don’t have a degree in the field you’re pursuing, you don’t have to build a network from scratch. Tap your school’s alumni database and go on informational interviews to learn more about the industry. You don’t want to reach out to a vice president, but nor do you want an entry-level employee to be your guide. Try contacting employees with five years of experience.

If you’re looking at jobs in other cities, don’t hesitate to do informational interviews by video or phone. Joining professional associations and attending industry events can also help build your network.

4. Leverage Transferable Skills

OK, so you majored in a different subject than your desired field. You likely still took a handful of general liberal arts courses—and those classes equipped you with some universal skills like writing, problem solving, verbal communication and organization. And if you took a leadership role on a class project, you may even have some project management skills in your back pocket. These transferable skills make you pretty marketable to employers.

Another good tip: Look at what skills are mentioned in job postings and then tailor your cover letter accordingly to each position.

5. Hone Your Industry Knowledge

To show employers you’re worth hiring, you need to prove that you’re knowledgeable about what’s going on in the field. And while that’s a good idea for every job seeker, it’s especially crucial if you don’t have relevant education or internship experience. Stay current by subscribing to company newsletters, reading industry media outlets, and following prospective employers on social media.

Again, use what you learn to inform your cover letter so the hiring managers can see that you’re serious about pursuing the job.

Reinforce your resume

Getting a job unrelated to your degree isn’t the big deal you think it is, whether you're into tech, health care, humanities, automotive design, or anything else. In fact, few companies will raise an eyebrow if they see your resume and notice your major doesn't perfectly match their industry, as long as you have the qualifications they're looking for.

Want some help with resume reinforcements? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Monster can help you put your ambitions front and center on your resume for the best results.