College students who choose majors in the liberal arts stand ready to meet the needs of tomorrow's employers. While majors like engineering, math, and computer science are popular job generators, experts note that majors emphasizing other, less specific job skills can also lead to career success. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the following skills - listed in order of importance - are most essential to college recruiters. A liberal arts degree can help you develop each one:
1. Be a team player.
The most important skill for job success, according to the recruiters surveyed, is the ability to work as a member of a team. The peer review process and research required for a liberal arts degree prepares students for the collaborative process in many work environments.
2. Make decisions and solve problems.
Workers need to be able to see a problem, determine the best course of action, and follow it through. Developing a thesis from inception to conclusion sharpens a student's critical thinking skills, which are vital in today's fast-paced workforce.
3. Plan your work and work your plan.
Workers at each stage of their careers need to be able to work independently, take stock of each task required, and prioritize as necessary. Typically, coursework in the liberal arts leads students in many different directions and through many different experiences. Students become adept at handling several different tasks at the same time.
4. Communicate effectively.
Communication - written and oral - is the key to success in the workplace. Ideas drive work, and those who can communicate ideas effectively will shine. Liberal arts majors write a great deal and often make presentations, which can strengthen their public speaking skills.
5. Get the answers.
The ability to find the answers when questions arise is vitally important. Liberal arts majors do major research, often creating a culminating thesis project before graduation. Knowing where to find information and being able to synthesize it for others can set a worker apart in almost any office.
6. Figure out the figures.
Data drives many aspects of our work - there are numbers to process in every imaginable career field. Mathematicians may be able to generate the data, but CEOs are looking for workers who can decipher the data and apply it to business situations. Liberal arts majors often acquire the critical thinking skills necessary to use hard data as a stepping stone for solving human problems.
7. Use the machines to do the job.
Virtually all work done today requires proficiency with computers, from word processing to spreadsheet development. Liberal arts majors may write and research using both word processing and spreadsheet software, and they take those skills right to the workplace following graduation.
8. Know the software.
Through extensive computer use, liberal arts majors learn many popular business software packages. Employees with prior knowledge of key software can often learn new software programs quickly and adapt when needed.
9. Write often. Write well.
Liberal arts majors write. A lot. Good writers can find success in many fields, and companies may ask applicants to submit writing samples or take writing tests as conditions of employment. Liberal arts majors are often uniquely prepared in this area.
10. Make the sale.
Liberal arts majors get a great deal of practice developing an argument and making the case on a particular issue. This kind of education can prepare students for the sales aspects of many careers. Persuasion lies in confidence, and liberal arts majors have the opportunity to develop that confidence by working with students and professors from diverse perspectives.