As a college sophomore you were asked to declare your major, but now as a college graduate your interests and passions may have changed and the major that you chose to pursue years ago may no longer be the career path you want to take.  Although it can be intimidating applying for jobs that do not directly relate to your degree, it is possible to change career paths while incorporating your college education.  CareerBuilder even found that 32 percent of college grads haven’t worked in a career directly related to the major that they chose in college.  Use the following steps to change the direction of your career after you have already received your degree.

Identify your career options:

Whether you are looking to change your career path because of job availability or because your interests have changed, you will need to identify new job options once you have made the decision to start looking outside the scope of your degree.  While it is possible to change the direction of your career, it is important to recognize which career moves you can make without additional education.  For example, if you received your degree in Communications, switching to a job in the medical field is unlikely without going back to school.  The best (and fastest) way to determine if you are qualified for a position is to review the job description and see if you meet the basic qualifications.  If the job description includes a specified degree that you do not have, it’s time to look into going back to school or move on to a different career option.  However, you may find that while your degree might not be an exact match for the job, it can be enough to get your foot in the door.

Research required skills:

After identifying what jobs are realistic options with your current degree, you should start narrowing down the positions and roles that you are most interested in.  Once you have narrowed down your options, start researching what skills are required for that position.  This can be done by meeting with people in that field and having conversations that will inform you of the skills that are necessary to succeed in the position you are interested in.

Highlight transferable skills:

After identifying possible careers and researching those that you are most interested in, you will need to build your resume to highlight skills that you gained in college that are transferable since your degree is not directly related to the job you are applying for.  After researching, you should have a good idea of the skills that you gained in college that are appropriate to highlight on your resume.  These transferable skills may include: writing, communication, computer skills, public speaking, managing groups of people, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Explain change in career path:

While your resume should be used to highlight any transferable skills, your cover letter should serve as a way to explain how your skills can be used in a different field and why you decided to make a change in careers.  This is your chance to explain why your degree doesn’t directly align with the job you are applying for, as well as why you think that you would be a good candidate for the position.

Prepare an explanation:

Should you have the opportunity to interview for one of the positions that you applied for, you will want to go into the interview prepared with an explanation as to why there is a disconnect between the job that you applied for and the degree that you earned.  It is important for you to be able to explain that despite earning a degree in a different field, you would be the ideal candidate for the job based on the skills that you can bring to the position.  This will show an interviewer that you have researched the position and are aware of the skills needed to be successful.


If you are starting to feel like you are limited by the degree you chose in college, following these steps can help you break into a field that you are truly passionate about.