The (Fortunate) Ballad of Having a Humanities Degree

Just because there’s generally less fanfare over humanities (compared to other more “glamourous” disciplines such as STEM) doesn’t mean humanities graduates are unemployable.
Sarah Si
Sarah Si
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This story might be a common theme if you’re in humanities – with graduation looming, you’ve been hearing of friends in majors like business or science having interviews lined up, or already offered full-time roles. And yet, you’re facing difficulties in your job search, even when applying to general roles that are open to all academic disciplines.

It doesn’t help that in the wake of the global pandemic and possible upcoming global recession, you’ve been hearing troubling stories of your alumni struggling to find employment. It’s natural for some self-doubts to creep in about your level of employability, but the truth is companies are hiring humanities graduates.

Demand for skills usually picked up in humanities courses, like negotiation, emotional intelligence and confidence are on the rise, and in this rapidly-changing environment with high levels of widespread technology adoption, critical and creative thinking, as well as leadership skills, are highly sought-after by employers.

That’s not all, of course. Here are other skills and insights you have that make your humanities degree sought-after in the corporate world!

You know how to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders

Considered a vital soft skill in just about any industry, companies tend to look for effective communication and interpersonal skills in every candidate. This is even commonly reflected in job listings all over the place, with nearly every job description listing “communication and interpersonal skills” alongside being able to “work in a team” as requirements.

It makes perfect sense, though. Even if the role you’re after doesn’t have you facing clients, you’ll still need to work well with your colleagues. As such, your solid grasp on communication and interpersonal skills will be very useful.

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You understand the new economy

Over the past few years, fragmented economies all over the world have been consolidating, with organisations merging and acquiring (M&A) other competitors through “marketing wars” as they seek to expand shares in more localised markets by winning over consumers.

For instance, Grab managed to acquire Uber’s Southeast Asian operations in 2018, after successfully expanding their consumer base with marketing and advertisement deals that played to consumer behaviour. Building on that momentum, in the first half of 2021, M&A activities in Singapore rose 82.4 per cent year-on-year!

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Technology advancement and adoption are more targeted to consumers

With behavioural changes spurred on by the global Covid-19 pandemic and new normal, technology adoption is continuing to rise. Remote and flexible working are no longer the exception, and online interaction has since cemented itself as a new constant in the workforce.

But all these changes have posed an immense challenge to programmers and product designers – with human behaviour changing by the day, they need to keep up in terms of innovation and consumer needs. With humanities graduates to help show them what consumers want, companies will be able to create outstanding products, and reach out to their target audiences with effective marketing, sales and communication.

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There's a higher demand for soft skills among employers

With jobs becoming more automated, there’s now a higher demand for soft skills in the workplace. In fact, the same soft skills you built over the course of your humanities studies – such as communication, critical thinking and creativity, among others – are transferable and flexible enough that they’re often applicable in a wide variety of industries and fields around the world!

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You're probably personally happy

Chances are, you didn’t take up humanities because of parental pressures, so you’ve been able to follow your passion and pursue the major you really want to do, whether its education, the arts, or even sales and marketing.

In fact, a 2019 Humanities Indicators Project report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences found that an estimated 90 per cent of humanities graduates are satisfied with their lives!

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Even if your job hunt is longer than others, don’t feel disheartened! As a humanities degree holder, you are equipped with the right skills and experience to start your career in the corporate world. Continue to believe in yourself, and persevere!