Which is More Important: Your Degree, or Your Skills?

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love British Literature.

An approach to your education that will improve your viability as a candidate is to focus on developing skills, not simply plowing through classes.

Why is this? Well, to be frank, most jobs care that you have a degree, but they don’t care which degree you have.

Instead, they care much more about the skills you learned while obtaining your degree.

Employers want to know if you can write memos, strategize digital content, proofread according to the company style guide, build websites, craft compelling sales copy, draft a manuscript, and more. They don’t care that you took Early British Lit or Creative Writing 201 – no matter how valuable those things are to you.

Once I realized this as an undergrad, everything changed (and led to a much more personally enjoyable educational experience).

Did focusing on skills rob me of the unexpected lessons English majors seem to serendipitously encounter so frequently? Nope. In fact, it helped me make those lessons more personal and therefore more meaningful (especially during Brit Lit – sorry, but Victorian literature simply wasn’t for me, no matter how many times I gave it a try).

Each of your classes can help you develop highly sought-after skills:

  • Taking a literature course? Practice text analysis and writing.
  • Taking a technical writing course? Pick up some HTML and CSS along the way.
  • In a creative writing workshop? Hone your storytelling – one of the most sought-after skills by marketers today.
  • Have an English portfolio class? Learn some Photoshop.

Know which skills potential employers want you to have, then focus on those. (To learn which skills employers want, visit Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, or LinkedIn Jobs.)