What recruiters see in liberal arts graduates

Liberal Arts Careers: Even as ‘freshers’, liberal arts graduates tend to be capable of effective communication, critical thinking and creativity.

Recruiters say students having access to interdisciplinary approach of studying  are well-rounded graduates ( Image : Freepik)Recruiters say students having access to interdisciplinary approach of studying are well-rounded graduates ( Image : Freepik)

Team Careers360 | July 1, 2024 | 12:13 PM IST

Pritha Roy Choudhury & Aeshwarya Tiwari

NEW DELHI: An Ashoka University graduate who majored in psychology was recruited into sales and marketing roles at a top fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firm. “We had a philosophy student who became an analyst at a leading consulting firm, and a history major who joined a top HR consulting firm as an analyst. The list is long,” said Priyanka Chandhok, vice president of the career development office at Ashoka University.

It is early days yet but liberal arts education is gaining acceptance among recruiters, especially those looking to hire candidates possessing strong communication skills, critical thinking ability and creativity.

Also read Virtual Liberal Arts and Sciences Expo for Class 12 graduates on July 6, 7

“Liberal arts students are valued for their varied skill set and are placed in cross-functional teams and roles such as client servicing and account management, contributing fresh perspectives and adaptability to the organisation’s success,” said Nitin Broota, HR head of Kaizzen Communications, a PR and media agency. “In Kaizzen’s campus placement strategy, liberal arts students are sought after for their ability to bring fresh perspectives, creativity, and versatility to various roles within the organisation.”

That said, a significant number of HR experts also pointed out that they were yet to recruit anyone emerging from liberal arts programmes – an undergraduate scheme of study that allows students a high degree of choice and flexibility in picking courses and subjects to study, allowing them to pursue their interests.

Recruiters who have hired liberal arts students, or organised placements for institutions offering such programmes, say the interdisciplinary approach produces well-rounded graduates with diverse skills and a holistic approach to problem-solving.

RP Yadav, chairman and managing director of Genius Consultants, a staffing solutions consultancy, said that most recruiters emphasise a strong foundation in critical thinking and practical experiences.

“In today’s multifaceted workplace environment, there must be more than technical knowledge,” he said. “We value practical experiences such as internship and project work, indicating the candidate’s ability to apply theoretical learning in a real-world scenario.”

Liberal arts education and adaptability, versatility

“The ability to articulate ideas clearly, verbally, and in writing is essential for success in any role. Liberal arts studies emphasise effective communication, making graduates adept at conveying complex information and engaging with di verse audiences,” said Ankit Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Unstop, a platform working on connecting
graduates with major brands present across the globe.

Nivedita Kannan, at Mudrex, underlines the significance of adaptability and outcome-oriented attitudes in potential recruits. “We look for the ability to focus and the attitude for short-term and long-term wins,” said Kannan.

“As recruiters, we must consider many factors to ensure alignment between organisational goals and a candidate’s attributes,” added Yadav.

Recruiters must also keep an eye out for potential leaders.

Prabir Haldar, a micro-entrepreneur, pointed out that firms don’t just look to match skills – the candidate’s with those required by the firm – but also focus on “identifying leadership material”.

“Once a desirable trait, leadership qualities are now indispensable assets sought after by well-performing companies,” he said.

Magnus Tuxen, the chief strategy officer of Assiduus Global Inc., an e-commerce marketplace, said that beyond academic accolades, Tuxen recruits graduates who demonstrate critical thinking, adaptability, and a proactive mindset. Their strategic vision and collaborative spirit are instrumental in propelling the company towards its goals. “We value candidates who are not just book-smart but also bring a strategic vision and a collaborative spirit to the table,” said Tuxen.

Liberal Arts Jobs: Challenges and solutions

Aparna Choudhury from Karda Initiative, which works with Vidyashilp University to groom students for roles in non-profit organisations, explained that liberal arts graduates can approach community work from a holistic perspective, unlike their counterparts from more conventional or technical backgrounds.

However, she also says that balancing students’ career aspirations and societal needs remains a significant challenge. “This is unlike a typical corporate job where one can focus on growth and learning. I understand that one’s growth and learning are equally important, but the community we work with cannot be treated as a subject. We exist because there are systemic gaps,” she said.

Liberal arts institutions can equip students with the skills necessary to critically assess diverse contexts and develop empathetic solutions tailored to the needs of marginalised populations. At many universities, community work, surveys, research, and finding solutions to real-world problems are worked into the programmes with projects bringing students from different major disciplines together to work as a team.

If you want to share your experience at work, talk about hiring trends or discuss internships, write to us at theworkplace@careers360.com. To know more about The Workplace itself, here's a handy note: Let’s talk work…

Read our submission guidelines

Follow us for the latest education news on colleges and universities, admission, courses, exams, research, education policies, study abroad and more..

To get in touch, write to us at news@careers360.com.

Download Our App

Start you preparation journey for JEE / NEET for free today with our APP

  • Students300M+Students
  • College36,000+Colleges
  • Exams550+Exams
  • Ebooks1500+Ebooks
  • Certification16000+Certifications