The one word that doubles liberal arts grads' chances of getting hired

We already know digital skills can make or break a job seeker's hireability. But recent research from Burning Glass Technologies sheds light on just how much. 

Burning Glass reports that when liberal arts job seekers add the word "digital" to their resumes—or otherwise demonstrate digital competencies—they double the number of job openings they qualify for.

What's more, when they are hired, salaries for job seekers with digital expertise increase significantly. For example, an entry-level candidate who studied psychology in college  receives an average salary of $42,206 per year. But when that same psychology major picks up a data analysis and statistics skillset, the starting salary can jump to $68,788. That's almost a $27,000 increase, Burning Glass reports.

Burning Glass also identified five specific skills within the digital realm most likely to improve a job seeker's chances of getting hired:

  1. Social media;
  2. Graphic design;
  3. Computer programming;
  4. IT networking and support; and
  5. Data analysis and management.

Burning Glass noted three skills outside the digital sphere that will increase hireability as well:

  1. Sales;
  2. Marketing; and
  3. Business administration.

Writing for Market Watch, Jacob Passy points out that many liberal arts majors might already have a digital skill or two in their arsenal, but just don't know it—or haven't adequately articulated it on their resume.

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One example he gives is an English major who wrote for their school newspaper in college—if the newspaper had a website, chances are that student picked up digital publishing skills in the process.

Passy reports that colleges have noticed the importance of communicating these skills and have established initiatives to help students market their skillsets for the digital-first job market.

At Bryn Mawr College, for instance, a new program helps students "gear their skill set to the job hunt." Part of doing so requires students to play up their digital adaptability, says Jennifer Spohrer, the director of educational technology services at Bryn Mawr. 

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"Students are very focused on one kind of software," says Spohrer, "but that software isn't always going to be around."

Writing for HR Dive, Valerie Bolden-Barrett adds that ultimately, for graduates to successfully adapt to meet shifting employer demands, educators and employers will need to partner with one another, so that "schools can better equip students with the skills employers say they need" (Bolden-Barrett, HR Dive, 5/8; Passy, Market Watch, 5/7).

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