A special report by 24/7 Wall St. has determined the 15 college majors that currently have the highest rates of unemployment. To give you an idea of how bad these degrees have it, in a time when unemployment is claimed to be the lowest in a decade (less than 5.2 percent nationally), the No. 1 worst degree on the list is carrying a whopping 11.2 percent unemployment rate.
That fine arts degree won't give you much ROI
At the top of the list, a degree in fine arts is twice as likely to leave you unemployed -- and that's in a good economy. Why? The lack of skills that can be applied to jobs limits the opportunities available. That being said, with more than three million students graduating from college every year, those with a fine arts degree aren't the only ones who tend to struggle to find a steady job and career track. Many liberal arts majors find that having studied history or psychology (also in the top 15 highest unemployment rates) doesn't appeal to employers. It's true. I work with many companies on their recruiting, and their biggest frustration with recent graduates is their lack of practical business knowledge and professional skills -- which (sadly) they don't teach in school.
When your degree isn't in demand, time to focus on your brand
When college grads come to Work It Daily after struggling to find a job or career, I always tell them the secret is to identify a clear personal brand. By focusing on the most marketable parts of their experience and skills, we can emphasize their value to an employer and make the case to hire them, even in spite of the degree. This is achieved in three steps:
- Inventory your strengths. Knowing what you do well is vital to building a personal brand. Start by asking friends and family what they feel your professional strengths are and why. Listen carefully! You need to look for patterns in their answers that validate your strongest skills and abilities.
- Translate them into how they save or make a company money. Research and identify how your skills impact a company's bottom line. Online self-assessment tools, like this free Career Decoder, can tell you how you prefer to add value to a company and will let you see what professional personas suit you best.
- Build a résumé and LinkedIn profile to showcase the brand. Use what you've learned to optimize your résumé and LinkedIn profile messaging. Include the skills and accomplishments that match what you've identified to be your strengths. The more you can showcase how you would use your abilities to be an asset, the more likely an employer is to speak with you.
Overcome the bias against your degree with branding
While you can't go back and change your degree, you can change how you're perceived by employers. Doing your homework and tailoring your career tools to reflect how you will save or make a company money is the best way to stand out and get noticed. Personal branding requires research and thought, but can be done by anyone who is determined enough. Remember: You're a college graduate. If you had the discipline to study and get your degree, then you are capable of developing your brand so you can get hired.