Sometimes life doesn't go as planned. Plenty of people graduate from college, and then pursue jobs that are completely unrelated to their degrees.
Once you have your degree in hand, it doesn't mean that you're automatically locked in to a career in that field. If you want to try your hand at something different, you can absolutely do it!
Transferable soft skills (like leadership, communication, creativity, or problem solving) are the keys to changing career paths. Here are a few ways to show a potential employer that you have the skills they're looking for, and that you're qualified to do the job—regardless of the degree you have.
Format Your Résumé Strategically
When it comes to your résumé, you always want to accentuate your strengths. To do this, your résumé should prominently feature all your skills that relate to the position you're applying for.
One way to emphasize these is by including a "Summary Of Qualifications" section at the top of your résumé. Use this space to highlight what you can bring to the position and the company. The employer should be able to read this section of your résumé and immediately understand what skills you can contribute to the role.
If your degree doesn't support the job you're applying for, you can deemphasize that fact by moving your "Education" section to the bottom of the page. That way, a hiring manager will be more likely to see all of the reasons why he or she should hire you before seeing something that could be perceived as a negative.
Many companies use tracking systems that search for keywords in applicants' résumés. Now that you know this, you can get your résumé noticed just by including the right words on it!
In many cases, employers will actually tell you what words to use. Look at the job description for the position you're applying to and pick out the words that they use there to describe the candidate they want to hire. Then, just find ways to incorporate some of these words into your résumé. This video explains more about keywords and the importance of using them to your advantage.
Connect The Dots In Your Cover Letter
Keywords may get your résumé into the hiring manager's hands, but they won't convince him or her you're the right candidate—especially if you're light on relevant experience. Your cover letter is your chance to tell the story of how your skills relate to the job. It lets you explain "why" you applied, instead of "what" you've done.
Use this opportunity to explain your background, your interest in the job, and your ability to benefit the company. in that last part, make clear connections between your past experience and this new role. That way, there will be no doubt in the hiring manager's mind that your transferable skills make you the perfect fit. If you need some help writing your cover letter, check out this video.
Be Prepared For Your Interview
Before your interview, be sure to take some time to prepare an explanation of why you'll be great for the company and position. You can pretty much count on the interviewer asking why you're seeking a position that diverges from your major (especially if you're a recent graduate), so practice your response to this question with a friend or family member. This is a good idea for handling any tough interview question you may face.