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The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education

Little, Brown US,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Today’s companies seek out and reward new hires who have liberal arts educations.

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Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Applicable
  • For Beginners


Pulitzer Prize–winning author George Anders believes people who infuse “a humanist’s grace” into “technical disciplines” meet the employment needs of contemporary society. He explains that liberal arts graduates can blend their skills, training and “explorer’s spirit” to land innovative, satisfying jobs in varied fields. Most of his examples focus on recent grads, but his approach is transferrable to those who are ready for a career change. Anders offers valuable tips to help liberal arts majors envision their career possibilities and realize the long-term value of creative positioning. getAbstract recommends Anders’s guidance to recent grads and midcareer alumni ready to market their skills in fresh ways.


Critical Thinking Skills

Some observers believe that a liberal arts education doesn’t have enough cachet to be of value in the 21st century. As a college student or recent graduate, don’t let this deter you: Embrace your “liberal arts identity” as a reliable strength you can parlay into a successful career. The “curiosity, creativity and empathy” that humanities majors develop are essential skills in today’s work world. As innovation progresses, technology is speeding up the demands companies must meet. In this environment, engineers need to partner with people who can handle subtle situations and tease out human behavior. Some of the most rapidly growing jobs are more “tech-influenced” than “tech-centered” – for example, market researchers, compliance officers, data analysts, event planners, fund raisers, graphic designers, marketers and technical writers. These new work categories are driving hiring growth in both the “rapport sector” and the “ingenuity economy.”

Employers seek candidates who demonstrate critical thinking and writing skills. They want people who can speak clearly, work effectively with teams, and analyze nuanced or complex scenarios...

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George Anders is an editor at large at LinkedIn, focusing on college-to-career issues. He’s written four other books and has held key positions at The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg View and Fast Company.

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