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Going for an interview with an off-topic degree

Maybe I’m different from you, but I love looking at job openings. Further, I can justify my qualifications for almost all of the jobs I read. What, you say? You’re no engineer. You’re no scientist. Ah, but I am a chameleon. For that brief moment of reading the job description, I picture myself there, happy and successful. It’s like a little novel where I’m the main character and I get to visit different plots in my mind. “The Road Not Taken,” as poet Robert Frost reminds us.

Campus recruiting coordinator needed to work hand-in-hand with designated recruiters to facilitate the campus hiring process. Interacts directly with candidates, hiring managers and interviewers in all phases of recruiting. Must excel in candidate-facing tasks and enjoy event planning and logistics.

Good one. I love events and meet-ups; I’m blogging about hiring. I qualify.

You are a motivated professional who likes to succeed. You want more from your life. More independence, more freedom, more control and flexibility and more time for yourself. You dream of building something of your own instead of building something for someone else. The explosive digital marketing industry wants you to help businesses achieve online success.

Who doesn’t want this job? It has everything, especially independence.

The branch sales manager is responsible for managing day-to-day activities of a team of executives ensuring that all sales team members meet established sales quotas. This position works closely with other managers to expand business and establish new customers while interacting with existing customers to increase sales of products and services.

Now that’s what I’m talking about! Bossing a team? Let me at ‘em.

So, you’re back to the job search. You’ve finished college and are looking for your first job or you’re using your college degree but have discovered you don’t love the field you chose four, six, eight years ago.

Job openings. That’s where you need to start. Many successful folks believe you should always be looking anyway. Luckily today, you can find openings in many places. My current favorite is LinkedIn. I look at it like I look at Facebook or Twitter. It’s interesting in a more useful and less entertaining way. You can make yourself as visible or invisible as you like. Before you know it, LinkedIn will be sending you jobs based on the analytics you’ve put in your online profile. So watch what you receive. Revise. Revisit.

Amy Armstrong, an associate vice president at Baylor University, says she is not so caught up in specific degrees when she’s looking to hire someone new. She says she looks for “soft skills” in applicants for early career positions. “Hard skills” can be taught but she first needs someone who can get along and fit into the job atmosphere. She wants someone with leadership qualities who takes initiative in a job, is on time or early and has a strong work ethic in general.

“I look for things they’ve done that require good communications and that develop confidence. I want someone to be articulate, a self-starter who can manage projects. They need to be able to write and communicate well,” she says.

Think about those volunteer activities you have on your resume or the extracurricular activities you had in college. Were you a leader? Did you get budgeting experience? Did you plan and execute a project? Could you consider it successful? I’m sure it was at least to some level.

Amy said her opinion has shifted over the decades she has been a hiring manager and now she’s more open to degrees outside of the field listed on an opening and also is willing to translate different experiences for the level of experience she is seeking.

She said she looks favorably on degrees in general business, marketing, public relations, English and writing and communications.

“For entry level positions, early careerists, I find it’s harder to teach the soft skills than the hard skills. I’d rather they come with the ability to get along, accept coaching well and be a good fit,” she says. “I can teach the real work but it’s hard to teach someone to take initiative and fit in.”

So maybe it’s time you take the road you didn’t travel in the first place. It’s all about the journey, right? Time to go online and read about some jobs. You may have to open yourself up to a longer road to a new place you didn’t expect.


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