What Employers are Looking for


Here are some findings about what employers are looking for: In a survey given by the Association of American Colleges they found that “93 percent of the employers surveyed said that "a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate's] undergraduate major." What matters most to employers are the thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills a job candidate has acquired in college.

Looking at successful leaders in business and in the nonprofit sector, you find that they have majored in everything under the sun. Many ended up, by choice, pursuing careers in fields other than the one in which they majored: ”http://chronicle.com/article/Giving-Employers-What-They/139877

Here is Forbes list of the 10 skills most desired in 20-something employees (that’s you!):

  1. Ability to work in a team (thesis and general coursework)
  2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (THESIS!)
  3. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work (THESIS!)
  4. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization (research presentations)
  5. Ability to obtain and process information (thesis!, general coursework!)
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data (some coursework)
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job (depends on job)
  8. Proficiency with computer software programs (thesis-caqdas)
  9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports (THESIS!)
  10. Ability to sell and influence others (thesis presentations)
  11. Creativity (general coursework)
  12. Ability to learn/adapt quickly (THESIS RESEARCH!)
  13. Passion (bring it!)

In the course of doing field research, anthropology majors will acquire superlative skills in their ability to: obtain and process information, create and/or edit written reports, communicate verbally, learn and adapt quickly, and be creative. In addition, students will develop superior skills in their ability to: work in a team (esp. during field research); plan, organize and prioritize work; and master new computer skills (e.g., qualitative data analysis software). That’s just about everything on Forbes’ list (you’ll have passion in your field research but whether or not you can carry that over into your job is up to you. And your job…).

A recent report on what employers say is lacking in college graduates describes the following:

  • More than 9 in 10 of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.
  • More than 75% of employers say they want more emphasis on 5 key areas including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
  • Employers endorse several educational practices as potentially helpful in preparing college students for workplace success. These include practices that require students to a) conduct research and use evidence-based analysis; b) gain in-depth knowledge in the major andanalytic, problem solving and communication skills; and c) apply their learning in real-world settings.

Now compare that with the skills that you will acquire as an anthropology major - critical thinking, complex problem solving, written and oral communication, and applying knowledge to real-world settings, ability to conduct research, engage in analytic problem solving, capacity for new learning, and, most obviously, intercultural skills.

This all should make it patently obvious that an anthropology degree will provide you with the skills and abilities that employers are looking for. The trick is that you simply have to be willing to acknowledge that you have those skills and abilities.

And most importantly, once you successfully graduate with your degree in anthropology and are asked by a survey group about your decision to major in anthropology, be sure to tell them how you really feel!