Majorly unemployable?
April 29, 2007 10:17 PM   Subscribe

Is it alright for me to leave my specific field of study from my resume if employers might find it...offputting?

Here's the problem: I'm generally looking for IT-related jobs (so, back-end web development and junior SDE positions) for the summer. I've got the skills, and some relevant work experience, but the degree that I'm working towards (Hon BA in sociology and math), to some, might imply otherwise. I've dealt with a couple of HR people lately who've tried to shuffle me towards administrative positions and I'm beginning to suspect it has something to do with my (future) arts degree.

Academically speaking, I take comp sci courses, and my marks in them range from decent to very strong; same goes for math, it's my second major. I'm just a little worried that employers are tossing my resume when they see "bachelor of arts in sociology". Can I omit exactly which degree I'm a candidate for and just list my relevant courses? Is my somewhat irrelevant degree going to screw me over forever?
posted by thisjax to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, you can just list your relevant courses.
posted by yohko at 10:30 PM on April 29, 2007

Yes, you can. My major is aerospace engineering, but I have loads of awesome programming experience, so I kept getting picked for programming jobs when I applied at Aerospace companies, when I want to do engineering work. I toned down the programming skills section of my resume and emphasized my relevant course work section. Of course, I also have a different resume I use when applying for programming jobs that focuses on my programming skills. Everyone tailors their resume to the job they're applying for, and as long as you're not dishonest (e.g., don't claim to be getting a degree in CS), it won't matter. For you, I guess you might list important skills and relevant coursework, but maybe make your actual major\degree less prominent.

No, it won't. I think once you get out of school and get some experience, most employers aren't going to care what degree you have. There are even tons of people in IT who don't have degrees.
posted by !Jim at 10:31 PM on April 29, 2007

Put your skills at the top of your resume and the education at the bottom.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:33 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: As someone who is in the process of hiring a developer, my answer is "It depends." The way I see it, you should

a) be honest and list the degree
b) get yourself into an interview to explain that situation.

If you include a well-written cover letter that address the key selection criteria, mention the fact that you're majoring in CS and manage to sound like you know what you're on about, I don't see why you wouldn't at least get an interview.

And, once you're in the interview, demonstrate your knowledge and explain the situation.

Good luck!
posted by cheaily at 10:46 PM on April 29, 2007

Best answer: Do a combination resume (potential self-link, as I wrote this article, but I don't own the site and don't benefit/profit from you going there.) and put your education toward the bottom. List relevant courses below your degree. In an interview situation, be prepared to explain why you chose a path that would leave you so well-rounded. You might note your independent research, writing, analysis skills, etc. Perhaps you could even say something about understanding the larger role of technology in society, with regard to how it is adopted -- diffusion of innovations -- but you should make sure you have a good feel for the interviewer before launching into anything like that.
posted by acoutu at 11:30 PM on April 29, 2007

A resume is your own little commercial, not a full-disclosure application for insurance cover, and it's an extremely good idea to tailor it for each job you apply for. Leaving stuff off a resume that's not (or should not be) relevant to your prospective employer is in no way dishonest.
posted by flabdablet at 12:38 AM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have an honours BA in sociology and work in IT. Never been a problem. I list it last on the resume but it's there.
posted by mendel at 4:23 AM on April 30, 2007

My brother has a BA in political science & works as a programmer. Mine is art history & I'm a web designer. I really don't think your major is that big a deal, as long as you can prove that you have the skills. (I put my skills list up high on the resume & my degree way down at the bottom.)
posted by belladonna at 5:30 AM on April 30, 2007

I've been working as a programmer for many years. My BA is in Humanities. I've always listed my education on my resume (at the bottom), and it's never been a problem.
posted by trip and a half at 7:05 AM on April 30, 2007

Ditto listing at the bottom, include it in the cover letter, and remember...some of us reading your IT resumes have non-CS degrees.

(ABD in History)
posted by mrbugsentry at 7:32 AM on April 30, 2007

If you're being shuffled to administrative positions, it is not a problem with your degree. People with liberal arts and social science degrees get hired all the time in IT—in fact, I'd say that the majority of web developers I know have no academic training in computer programming at all.

Keep the degree on your resume. If you're studying sociology and math, you're engaging in the kind of critical and methodical thinking that makes for good programmers. Just make sure to highlight coursework and (especially important) previous work experience relevant to the position you're applying for.

(I have a BA in Linguistics and worked in IT for several years. Some people I interviewed with even told me that my degree was an asset.)
posted by aparrish at 9:12 AM on April 30, 2007

Bachelors of Fine Arts from a school known for theater majors and artsyfartsy types. I've never done the resume run but I've gotten jobs in IT before, and the basic fact of the matter is that if you are good, and can show it, then you will get the position.

I agree that the degree will be an asset. In my experience, unless you are looking at something like high level programming for Google (for which you need a PhD anyway), then you can pretty much be self-taught in programming AND have a nice BA that shows that you can think about something other than computers (there's absolutely nothing wrong with studing CS either; my favorite courses at my froo-froo lib-arts school were the CS courses I took my senior year). Granted, I will never be the kind of person who codes in low-level languages and what not. I'll be perfectly happy doing database development, web programming, scripting, and Linux admin, thank you very much.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:16 PM on April 30, 2007

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