3 Tips on Deciding Which Industry
Is Right for You After Graduating
Based on Your Skills

See also: Employability Skills for Graduates

Choosing a graduate job is rarely a simple decision, even when you have a dream career in mind. But if you don’t know what you want to do, or have a general arts degree, that task can feel impossible.

Instead of letting your degree decide for you, try looking at your skills.

Throwing hats in the air at graduation.

How to Choose an Industry After Graduating

Since most degrees give you access to several industries, you’ll need to use your qualifications to examine the hard skills you learned and the soft skills you’ve developed over time.

1. Examine Your Degree

Take a look at your degree to narrow down your industry opinions because your certification may lock you out of some industries. At the very least, it could prevent you from working specific jobs.

For example, a nurse works in the same industry as a doctor, but a nurse can’t become a doctor without going to medical school. Other degrees are more flexible, like business or English

What’s more, certain degrees may teach you very specific hard skills that belong to one or two industries. However, most degrees give you some leeway, making the decision difficult.

If you’re really stuck, here are some jobs you can work in with any degree:

  • Human Resources
  • Accounting (with a CPA)
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Management Consulting
  • Investment Banking
  • Public Relations
  • Teaching (with a TEFL)
  • Sales
  • Hospitality and Travel Management
  • Supply Chain and Logistics

While it’s great that some degrees give you access to several options, careers like sales, public relations, and teaching are incredibly varied. If you consider your degree the tip of the iceberg when it comes to choosing an industry, consider your entire hard skill set beyond your degree.

2. Look at All of Your Hard Skills

Hard skills are the most stagnant of the skill category because your degree will focus on one to three disciplines. While you can learn hard skills in your own time, they require a significant amount of practice, education, and repetition.

As a positive, hard skills are easy to prove. If you want to find graduate jobs in a specific industry, consider your credentials in the following:

  • Administration and Management: Leadership, businesses planning, and management.

  • Biology: The study of humans, animals, plants, and other organic matter.

  • Body Coordination: The ability to perform choreography or athletic feats.

  • Building and Construction: HVAC, home building, roofing, utility maintenance.

  • Chemistry: A branch of science that deals with the composition and properties of elements.

  • Clerical: Administrative tasks, processes, filing, and office-wide storage systems.

  • Computers and Electronics: The ability to use computer equipment and programs.

  • Economics and Accounting: Deals with banking, financial systems, investing, and accounting.

  • Fine Arts: Theories and techniques regarding visual arts, drama, music, and more.

  • Foreign Language: Knowing more than your native language or the study of language/culture.

  • Management and Financial Resources: The ability to make sound financial decisions.

  • Mathematics: Competence in mathematics, ranging from times tables to deriving formulas.

  • Mechanical Medicine and Dentistry: Ranging from first aid to dentistry to open-heart surgery.

  • Monitoring: The ability to assess and measure the accuracy of someone's work.

  • Operation Analysis: The ability to assess needs and requirements and make or change plans.

  • Personnel and Human Resources: Recruiting, onboarding, hiring, and training.

  • Production and Processing: Overseeing manufacturing and local/international distribution.

  • Programming: A specific computer skill that allows you to write and edit computer programs.

  • Psychology: The study of researching, assessing, and treating human behavior.

  • Public Safety and Security: Procedures, policies, and strategies that involve safety/security.

  • Quality Control Analysis: Involves testing processes, like recipes, machines, and programs.

  • Repairing: Involves repairs ranging from DIYs to structural damage from storms or fires.

  • Sales and Marketing: The study of selling in a traditional or online space.

  • Science: General study of science that involves solving problems based on natural law.

  • Sociology and Anthropology: The study of group behaviors, culture, and societal trends.

  • System Analysis: Involves managing operations in the workplace, like monitoring productivity.

  • Teaching and Course Design: The ability to make and run a course or teach a course.

  • Telecommunications: Involves learning how to use a phone and/or develop a telecom network.

  • Therapy and Counseling: The study of counseling, therapy, and supervising others.

  • Writing: The ability to effectively and correctly communicate via the written word.

Your degree may not teach you all the hard skills you need to get specific jobs in your industry.

For example, most computer science degrees will teach C, C++, and Java only, so you’ll need to learn Ruby and Python elsewhere. If you place the coding languages you know in the “skills” section of your resume, the recruiter will assume your degree taught you these hard skills.

Someone with a computer science degree can drastically change the industry they work in based on their subsequent hard skills. A web developer needs UX and graphic arts skills, while a computer science professor needs teaching, monitoring, and science skills. 

Anything you learn outside of your degree needs to be backed up by proof, either through performing the task in person or by getting a certificate from an accredited institution.

3. Compare Your Hard Skills to Your Soft Skills

Soft skills, also known as “people skills,” are harder to quantify or prove, but you can use them to determine if an industry fits your personality. There are hundreds of soft skills you could develop, but most benefit all industries, like communication, patience, and time management.

On the other hand, some soft skills will give you access to jobs beyond your degree. For example, most of the tech industry staff are introverts because customer service skills aren’t needed for their job. In fact, teamwork or leadership skills are rarely sought after.

But if an employee has these skills, they could work in the business side of IT or sell computer parts in the manufacturing sector. If you can communicate effectively, you'll open up a lot of doors.

On the other hand, being shy doesn’t prevent you from finding gainful employment. Software engineers are in the same industry as IT sales and make twice what they make on average.

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.

About the Author

Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.