By: Trent Hazy - CEO, MindSumo
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently bragged about the increasing rate of graduating seniors visiting the college career center (49.8% in 2014).
You’d guess this would lead to better hiring outcomes for grads. Unfortunately, it didn’t make much of a difference. The article explains:
The offer rate for those who used the career center improved modestly, increasing by 1.3 percent over those who did not use the career center
This tells me that college students really need to take matters into their own hands if they are going to maximize their chances of getting a job by graduation.
One topic career centers, parents, and professors rarely discuss is how to pitch yourself as more than just your major. Chances are, you selected your course of study as a freshman or sophomore, and the last thing you were thinking about was your career.
As a mentor on MindSumo, I’ve mentored dozens of college students. Here are a few tips I give them about how you can portray yourself as knowledgable in fields other than your major:
1. List Relevant Coursework
If you’ve taken classes related to a job you’re applying to, list them on your resume! Even if it’s an introductory class, showing your academic exposure to Accounting, Engineering, Marketing or other job-related skills can really boost your image as a relevant candidate. This section (often called Relevant Coursework) is usually at the top of your resume under the Education section, right under your degree.
This is an easy section to customize for specific jobs, just by adding a class or two that’s extremely relevant. Don’t shy away from one-unit seminars or independent study — highlight any education you have related to the job at hand. And don’t be afraid to add an explanation about what coursework you did in a class. For example, maybe you are applying to a job at a mobile tech company and you took Sociology 101 and wrote about how mobile devices influence online shopping decisions in your major research paper. Mention this! (i.e. “Sociology 101 — focus on mobile technology”)
2. Join and Lead Clubs & Groups
Recruiters love seeing your passions manifested in places beyond the classroom. If you’re a History major interested in graphic design, join a campus organization in that field. If it doesn’t exist, you can put your initiative on display and start the organization yourself! I see most students list groups and clubs on their resume under Activities & Interests (after Education and Experience). If you have had significant leadership positions in relevant clubs and activities, don’t be scared to put this under “Experience” — you want to emphasize your most compelling experience towards the top of your resume.
3. Tackle Independent Projects
Doing projects on your own is the closest you can get to internship experience without an official internship. This could include building a website, selling scarves, designing brochures/posters, running social media for your uncle’s practice, shadowing a family friend, etc. I know how valuable this can be, since MindSumo helps students tackle projects (in addition to our mentor program). Research shows that a project or work sample can help increase recruiters’ ability to predict your work performance by 40%.
At the end of the day, no matter how you brand yourself, remember that your major does not have to be a set of handcuffs forcing you into a specific line of work. Explore as much as possible, and use your experiences to show businesses you can make it in a field you care about.
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn here:: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140818002715-69425134-3-ways-to-brand-yourself-beyond-your-college-major