Eight skills that can double your chances of being hired

Eight skills that can double your chances of being hired

Peter Harris|

There was much talk across the blogosphere last week about a CIBC World Markets report about the value of education. In a nutshell, the study suggested that there is still value on the job market in having a university degree. However, many students see a poor return on the investment of the time and money they put into their education because they study subjects for which there is little demand.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence that one’s field of study is the most important factor determining labour market outcomes, today’s students have not gravitated to more financially advantageous fields in a way that reflects the changing reality of the labour market,” said CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal.

The report shows the most financially lucrative degrees for both men and women are in medicine, law and engineering, while the life sciences, humanities and social sciences provide a much lower ROI. (You can download the full report here.)

That news might leave some liberal arts grads fearing that their education may have been a waste of time and tuition from a financial point of view. Well, another new study just out has found that liberal arts students can greatly increase their potential on the job market if they add some technical skills such as marketing, graphic design or programming to their resumes.

Burning Glass, a company that specializes in analyzing labour market trends, has identified eight technical skill sets that liberal arts students or grads can obtain through extra coursework or internships. Acquiring one or more of these greatly increases the opportunities open to arts grads, and gives their starting salaries a boost at the same time.

The top technical skills to add to your liberal arts resume:

  • Social media
  • Marketing
  • Computer programming
  • Sales
  • Business
  • Graphic design
  • Data analysis
  • IT networking


The report found that the demand for expertise in social media management was growing faster than any of the other skills.

For this report, Burning Glass analyzed millions of entry-level job openings between July 2012 and June 2013. They found that developing even one of the eight technical proficiencies listed above can give candidates access to nearly double the jobs (90% more), and that these additional opportunities offer an average salary of $6,000 more than those of entry-level jobs usually available to liberal arts grads. (You can download the full report here.)

Humanities graduates traditionally have honed valuable skills such as researching, writing, and communicating, as well as critical thinking and problem solving. These are often cited as among the proficiencies most sought after by employers in new hires.

“When combining these skills with workforce-specific competencies, a liberal arts education becomes highly valuable,” said Burning Glass CEO Matthew Sigelman.

Peter Harris

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Category: Job Search Strategies, Student
  • Jill Patricia Lyons

    What is a liberal arts degree?… if you have one does it say Bachelor/Master/Doctor of Liberal Arts?… or is it a term people toss around like everyone knows what it is?

    I have had data analysis, business and marketing on my resume at various times… it didn’t make a bit of difference… I was working right along side high-school grads and supervised by someone without so much as a high-school diploma…

    • Brian Wison

      That is an Arts or Humanities type of degree. Basically one that is pretty useless in the business world that doesn’t really give you any skills.

      • madmoterman

        Then you become a teacher. Basically why kids today are failing math.

    • highparkgirl

      I was a job developer for 10 years at a technical college and many people with computer programming degrees are also unemployed, if they have no interest or aptitude for the subject. The school I worked for got rid of many of the liberal arts subjects like English. This was the subject our graduates most often failed and had to repeat at a community college. Also, i worked for an outsourcer for 8 years, and many technical jobs like computer programmer and medical transcriptionist have already been outsourced to emerging nations. So, study what interests you.

    • C.y. Lim

      Hi Jill, Just don’t believe everything in the Gospel written by Petey Harris.

  • amaharra

    aah all those researches and such and such skills to add.. I did not sell my 15 years international production experience. It is a world of big mouth and pumping yourself in resume and interview. One more thing that technical education does matters

  • peter visser

    Poor Brian and madmoterman…who would ever hire you with such negative attitudes…say something constructive!!!!!!!!

  • Amy Bradley

    Can’t go wrong with a bachelor of commerce degree…bachelor of arts is a waste of money unless you move on to a graduate degree in education etc…

    • Antochan Illickal

      i dont think its a waste of money,when we study a arts degree it will give some values and lesson.atleast we can keep for our next generation

  • goodsense

    How do any of these things relate to a plumber, a pipefitter or an electrician making $150,000+? How about skill level, a past that exhibits your abilities and a willingness to actually work?

    • Peter Pottinger

      No HVAC, electrician or plumber is making anywhere close to that without 1. having your ticket which REQUIRES 10+ years as an apprentice, owning your own business, AND working crazy overtime. If you don’t believe that warrents 100k+ salary, go do it yourself for less.

  • Nikhil Khedkar

    I do agree with the author more or less when he mentions that a liberal arts graduate might need to load their arsenal up with some technical skills. Considering how most jobs, or at least the lucrative ones are core skills oriented; which is quite fair in my opinion. Then again if one is creative enough no knowledge or skill is a waste, not unless one can find applications for it in their lives.

  • Anand Kumar

    When combining technical skills with workforce-competencies any degree becomes highly valuable;not just liberal art degrees.Combining technical skills by earning extra degrss will make a candidate more hirable in any field.

    • Robin Babu

      I totally agree with u anand

  • vinish baby

    In my view,multiple skills are essential in the present workfiield. An individual can easily attaract an employer by his educational qualification, but in reality people should have knowledge in different fields.

  • Manthan Sunil Bhayani

    I think that whatever is discussed in this article is appropriate
    to the current market scenario because I myself am a student and I have faced
    the same situations while looking for jobs in my field and to succeed in my
    choice of field I have used many of the suggestied methods in the article to
    acquire good and lucrative jobs.

  • Leah Sweeney

    It all boils down to who you know when one lives in a small town. I had a brother who spent 20+ years away from his home province and when he returned home with 20+ years of work experience with more than enough skills to qualify for the work he wanted the potential employers told him in all of his interviews he wasn’t experienced enough. When one is away from a town for more than 20 years, chances are by the time one returns home, one will find that no one knows him any more. Employers, especially small business owners, would rather hire families, or people they know as opposed to hiring some stranger.

  • Peter Pottinger

    Its not simply what you have on paper, it also has to be your passion.

  • Muhammad Malik

    I’m currently taking a program called. Interactive Multimedia Development. Which is teaching me all about Photoshop, graphic designing, web authoring and designing, video and audio, DSLR photography and filming. Plus I’ve done 2 years of university in basic business. So add that all up, a company can hire me to do 3 to 4 different jobs without having to hire extra people and train those people.

  • http://about.me/davidalangay David Gay

    I have 20 years of experience working in Information Technology and am even willing to deliver flyers and work in a mailroom outside my career track, yet finding a job is very difficult. Add on top of that, I moved to a new city (Kitchener) so my social network as of this time is a big fat goose-egg shaped zero-oooneo. Having the skills mentioned in this article is clearly not enough: it’s also about who you know.