Tuesday, August 23, 2011

English and Philosophy Majors - Jobs Everywhere!

So you're majoring in English or Philosophy and the joke's that you're screwed right out of college, right? Wrong!

Well, maybe; it depends on how hard you work at it.

But here's why you shouldn't be screwed - the ability to articulate and persuade is a marketable skill. I know what you're thinking, and yes, other people have difficulty turning the stuff that goes on in their heads into a clear and directed sequence of coherent thoughts. You may not, having spent four years doing that a few times a week (I know you skipped class, don't lie to me), but others do. Trust me.

So okay, now you're sold that articulation is valuable because it's more scarce than you previously thought. Now how do you turn that into a job? Well, here are a few things you can do that require articulation.

You can write the stuff that goes on websites. Or ads. Email marketing campaigns. Company blogs. There's a ton of stuff that people will pay you to write because jarbled writing doesn't sell. It's too complicated and directionless and therefore it's too scary. Have you ever read a bad sales pitch? No, you haven't, because you didn't read past the first line. Otherwise it would have been a good sales pitch. Engineers and the like will need you to write their sales copy because you can phrase things simply and in a line of thinking that's easily followed. You know words and language, my friend, and you can easily take a customer's language and phrase a value proposition in such a way that they can relate to it and therefore not resist it. And that's good for everyone.

People need to be persuaded of all kinds of things in business. The best advice I've ever heard about copywriting is that the entire purpose of the headline is to persuade the reader to read the first sentence. And the entire purpose of the first sentence is to persuade the reader to read the second sentence. And so on until the final sentence, the call to action, whose entire purpose is to persuade the reader to do something. Click a link, something like that. Buy my stuff. I dunno. The point is, my fellow English/Philosophy major, that you're surprisingly good at that and other people are surprisingly bad at it.

Now, your challenge is to persuade your potential employer of what I just persuaded you of (see what I did there?), but if you can't, then you probably shouldn't be hired in the first place. If you can, then it's obvious that you'll be able to do the job.

Keep in mind that people knew how to buy and sell stuff long before Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations. People knew that apples fell to the ground long before Isaac Newton articulated all that good stuff. Articulation is valuable.

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