Not every job requires a four-year degree and degree in the sciences, but most do. One of the most ubiquitous strategies in our society is to offer hiring agencies a pool of pre-tested applicants who we already know work well. These applicants are often called “pre-hires.” And that’s the problem.
Almost half of pre-hires come from top-tier colleges, and most of these are from prestigious institutions of higher education such as an ivy league school. But the reality is that universities simply don’t matter that much. The research shows that the people who need jobs are usually ones who started out at middle or lower-tier colleges.
The consequence of this is that hiring managers are forced to shift their definition of what a high-paying job is. That means the next time you see a position advertised at the bottom of your network, you can start dreaming about a new career. In fact, you might end up finding a job in the exact field you thought you wanted for decades.
Seems like an exciting day.
However, you shouldn’t actually expect to end up in the position you’ve been studying for since high school. A statistician might end up scouring the web for the best casino bonus to pass on to new signees, for instance and they would be happy with that as their job description. Why? Because the truth is you probably weren’t hired by an institution of higher learning for a specific career. You were hired by someone who actually cared about the specific experience you have.
The qualifications you’re applying for aren’t specific to the exact career you’re about to end up in. Instead, you’re describing a concept. You’ve told a hiring manager that you have certain attributes that are relevant to that career, and that’s exactly what they’re looking for.
You might have developed specific skills that are now completely useless for most other jobs. But in some ways, that’s a good thing. Because when the doors close and you leave your future behind, you don’t know what kind of career you’re going to end up in.
If you ended up working in a totally different job than the one you’d prepared for, that would be fine. But I think we all need to face the reality that most likely, it will be a completely different career. You may end up working in an industry that is completely different than what you originally thought you’d end up in, and it could require an entirely different skill set.
The more experience you have, the more skill sets you acquire, the more knowledge you develop, and the more pathways you learn, the more likely you will be to find a career that is exactly what you want to do.
Making it Work
So what are the ways to make sure you end up working in a job that matches your skill set? To start, let’s consider the question of what skills you need in order to be successful in a completely different field.
If you’re looking for a typical job with a typical career path, you probably need the following skill sets:
Strong communication skills
Performing well in a team environment
Validating, connecting, and earning the respect of your peers
Being honest and fair to people who are treating you poorly
Becoming a self-starter
Communicating effectively with others, especially authority figures
Being able to multi-task
Focusing on solving problems