4 Ways to Tweak your Academic Resume

By   |  November 28, 2011

Busting out of college and working the entry level job market is not exactly an inviting chore at the moment. The job market has been sucked through a strainer and what’s left requires some creative effort to put to use. If you’re one of the fortunate few that knows what sort of career you wish to launch then you probably have structured your academic track with a great deal of forethought. Those of us that pick a major based on something besides a career goal are going to be challenged by an amorphous job market that’s way too small to accommodate each year’s graduating class.

I graduated from college some years ago with a liberal arts major that provided me with lots of interesting upper division classes and approximately zero professional training. That was the result of my own befuddled thinking; a lot of students today are avoiding liberal arts degrees in general unless they have a specific goal like teaching or social work. But there are a lot of students graduating with business degrees or one of the IT majors, as examples, who are having trouble nailing down a job. Here are some suggestions for tweaking your academic bona fides without a massive reinvestment in academia.

1. Business students can align their bachelor’s degree with a growing industry by tacking on some courses in healthcare management. The University of North Carolina offers online courses in e-business strategy, e-commerce for managing supply chains, and project management – among dozens of others. Any one of these three can provide your entry level resume with an asterisk that is going to be noticed. At the baccalaureate level, UNC offers an online course in business research & report writing; at the graduate level in business-to-business marketing. This school is one of dozens that offer online business courses targeted at specific industries.

2. Students with a degree in one of the social sciences might be interested in some of the healthcare management options that align with their undergraduate studies. University of Massachusetts (UMassOnline) has a certificate program in gerontological social policy, and another in managing services for the aging. The University of Minnesota has two courses in various aspects of human resource development. There are many schools with courses or certificates in counseling psychology: they won’t get you a counseling license but they may get you an interview for a HR position.

3. There’s a lot of business activity – and growth – in information systems and information management. It’s not a bad idea to try and focus your studies in this area with some classes for high-growth market niches. The State University of New York (SUNY) Learning Network offers online courses in health informatics, in database-driven web sites, and in electronic commerce. Other options at SUNY and schools with large IT departments include computer forensics and cyber security.

4. There are some interesting opportunities in the field of clinical research, an industry niche that is being fed by the pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals. In pharmaceutical development there is a large regulatory affairs component where students with a public policy academic background might find a fit for employment. Data management is also an important part of clinical research. The University of Chicago has a certificate program for clinical trials management; Boston College offers a certificate in clinical research; and Northeastern University has three certificate programs for regulatory affairs.

These suggestions are examples of how you might target a growing industry by rounding out your academic credentials. There are many others; what’s required is matching up what you’ve studied with a business sector that’s hiring. Sometimes a couple of courses and some massaging of the resume will do just that.

Bob Hartzell has been writing for five years about education and other life essentials on a variety of websites. He writes about continuing education, career oriented degrees and the occasional online graduate program in recognition of the fact that the job market has undergone tremendous changes in the last twenty years.

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