The following post was written by and being reposted with permission from Sanjeev Agrawal, CEO and co-founder of Collegefeed. View the original post on Forbes.com.
The Class of 2014 received a boost on Friday with the latest Jobs Report, signaling renewed hope as many start their careers. But not all new grads fare equally. Perhaps this joke sums it up best, “What do you say when you find a Liberal Arts major on your porch – how much do I owe you for the pizza?”
Imagine what it must be like to be a Humanities major in college these days. You work hard, spend four years mastering your courses and meanwhile the refrain “you’re not going to make it” echoes in your caffeine-logged brain.
And if by chance, you’ve managed to navigate your academic career without hearing the sentiment ad nauseam, you might be at an even bigger disadvantage. Because public consensus is that you are going to fail. They cite minimal job offers with lower pay. Mountains of loan debt. And the growing perception that the true path to success lies in STEM degrees.
But even before the recent jobs spike, that climate has started to change – not just the stigma associated with Liberal Arts, but the actual career opportunities available. As the cool kids these days say, it’s time for the haters to stop hating. Here are five reasons why.
1. It’s Not As Bad As They Say
It’s true that software is “eating the world.” Mobile and cloud computing are disrupting many industries. As a result, there are currently many more opportunities for STEM grads than for majors in other fields. But at the same time, everyone faces the same challenges initially.
You’re competing against experienced, unemployed people that are likely more attractive on paper to employers. Your chance of standing out is equally bad given the volume of resumes recruiters process weekly, who typically only spend six seconds scanning each one.
However to many companies, the “soft skills” – the ability to communicate, work well in groups, handle stressful situations, turn your work in on time and make tough decision with minimal direction – actually matter more than academic backgrounds and skill-sets. Some surveys suggest that 60 percent of hiring managers rank it as the number one factor in evaluating a candidate, versus only 32 percent for hard skills.
In fact, new reports suggest that in the long term Humanities majors are starting to close the income gap. And with nearly one-third the number of students choosing to graduate in Humanities compared to 40 years ago, there is less competition than ever for those jobseekers.
2. Your Skills Are Equally Valuable
Think about it like this. Tech workers are required in the beginning – they build the apps, devices, even whole communities that make up our modern landscape. But what happens next? Programmers aren’t exactly the most creative and communicative people. Companies need marketers, graphic designers, sales people and so much more to then tell their story effectively. Successful, growing businesses are capitalizing on this fact.
And with 500,000 new businesses launching every month in the U.S, there are going to be a ton of jobs for non-tech majors. In fact, content is king today. Companies such as Contently and Scripted are solely focused on helping companies tell their stories better and are actively searching for artists and writers. Generating this content is going to be one of the most critical areas of growth in the next five years.
3. A Job Is Not Your Only Option
Another huge trend are marketplaces, which fundamentally aim to democratize the way the world works. For example, education was once closely guarded by schools and instructors. Today, those walls are tumbling down and you can learn anything from anyone with services such as Tutor, Skillshare and Coursera.
Conversely, you can teach. If you excel at something, you can actually make a living teaching it with any of the above sites and ultimately by building your own business. Never before have there been so many opportunities for individuals to monetize their core talents online – and it will only explode in the coming years.
4. Your Success Is In Your Hands
Realistically, to get any job in any company, you need two things: persistence and hard work. Just lurk around Quora for a few minutes and you will see hundreds of stories where perseverance is the only thing that paid off.
The job search is no longer merely about writing a resume and applying on job boards. Instead, the smartest path is to research the heck out of your dream company and figure out the right people to approach. And forget cover letters. Once you’ve found the appropriate contacts, email them directly with your reasons for wanting to work there. Explain what you bring to the table, what you plan to accomplish and keep following up until they say no.
For example, if you want a sales job at a company, grab their attention by pitching them as if you were a sales rep. If you love to write, craft a few blog posts for their industry to showcase your talent.
5. Technology Is No Longer Optional
Understanding technology is a must regardless of major. In fact, I’d argue that you’re already a tech wiz; you just don’t realize it.
Smartphones are full-fledged computers with Internet we carry in our pockets. Apps are much more sophisticated computer programs we use every day. Ten years ago it took day-long training sessions to educate workers on computer systems. Today, a company has not done its job right if you can’t begin using a program in five minutes or less. People on the whole are simply more tech savvy and millennials are hands down the furthest ahead.
Similarly, programming is becoming a life-skill, not a “profession.” And it’s really not a big deal. Sites like Code Academy and Treehouse make it simple for anyone to learn. So spend 30 minutes each week learning about technology and programming. Consider it an investment in your future. There are even vocational schools such as Dev Bootcamp that will put you through intense three month training and then get you a job as a programmer.
You may surprise yourself. You might love it and open up an entire new world of opportunities that marry your hard work in Humanities with those in-demand tech skills.
Sanjeev was Google’s first head of product marketing. Since then he has had leadership roles at 3 successful startups – CEO of Aloqa, a mobile push platform (acquired by Motorola), VP Product and Marketing at Tellme Networks (acquired by Microsoft) and as the founding CEO of Collegefeed (acquired by AfterCollege). Sanjeev graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an EECS degree from MIT and along the way spent time at McKinsey & Co. and Cisco Systems. He pretends to play squash when not chasing down his daughters for exercise. Follow him at @collegefeedTW.