Whether you are a geographer by degree or practice, you have a fantastic set of marketable skills that can enhance your resume and ultimately your ability to land great work in nearly any field in the job market. Here are eight skills and buzzwords to plug on your resume to help you stand out from the rest.
GIS is being used in career fields from fundraising to wildlife conservation to corporate sales. If you can use mapping software, make sure you include it in your resume’s skills section! Also list all applicable software that you have studied or used in the field.
Even if you only had one cartography course as a geography undergrad, you can claim professional design ability. Graphic design is value-added to nearly any career, especially if you are applying to nonprofits or communications-based work. The ability to understand how to aesthetically place information on letters, reports, and even emails is critical to success in today’s business world.
Nearly all geographers study environmental management as part of their coursework, but many job searchers do not correlate the two fields. Environmental specialists are one of the fastest growing job sectors in the US, estimated by the BLS to increase 15% by 2022.[i] As a geographer, you know how to analyze data spatially to inform environmental management, and that is essentially what many businesses are looking for in their specialists.
Geographers know how to look at a map with land, soil, and rock types and discern where resources – i.e. ground water, geothermal pockets, or coal – are located. This skill is critical in a number of different career fields. The obvious ones are government land managers for big outfits like the Bureau of Land Management, but you could even apply this ability to a nonprofit building a new office on a donated piece of land or to a home developer that needs to punch drinking water wells on construction sites.
Multiculturalism has become a business buzzword as companies increasingly go global in their workforce selection and seek people from different backgrounds to spur creative success.[ii] It is often difficult for people from diverse backgrounds to work together, however, and can result in conflict in the workplace. Hence if you can show that you are global and multicultural from different experiences or studies on your resume, you are more attractive to a hiring company. Geographers are often anthropologists by study or practice and well-traveled. List all the languages and parts of the world known to you on your resume to show your ability to understand people from diverse backgrounds and collaborate in the workplace.
Too often, people are overspecialized for real world jobs. People with pure science degrees may be awful at managing colleagues or writing memos, while people with liberal arts or social science degrees do not have enough of a hard science or technical background to be successful. It is a fact that most employers want generalists – a study of job posts on Monster and Career Builder showed that even jobs particularly posted for specialists required diverse skill sets in 36% of cases.[iii] Geographers are in the middle – they study a mix between the hard and social sciences and can bridge a gap. Hence if you are applying for a technical job, show that you have honed writing and people skills on your resume as well as your technical experience, and if you are applying to a communications-oriented job, demonstrate your technical skills. You will stand apart from the rest and shine as a valuable multidimensional generalist.
You know how to collect data, which is a marketable skill across disciplines and careers. Knowing how to do field research does not just show that you can manage information but also that you know how to plan a study and find the relevant supporting information to prove or disprove a theory. That skill is applicable to people management as well as project evaluation, and it can open you up to project management work.
What is human geography but the understanding of people and how they interact within the context of where they are? If you are an expert at researching and understanding those principles, you are an expert in understanding markets and how to connect the people within them to products, goods, and services for nearly any company, non-profit, or government agency.
If you are looking to enter a new career or are just searching for a new job within your current one, make sure you take advantage of your geography skills on your resume to set you apart from the rest!
[i] Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2014. Environmental Scientists and Specialists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm.
[ii] Blanding, Michael. 09 Dec. 2013. How Cultural Conflict Undermines Workplace Creativity. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2013/12/09/how-cultural-conflict-undermines-workplace-creativity/.
[iii] Love, Jessica. 5 Aug. 2013. Everyone Loves a Generalist. Kellogg Insight. http://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/everyone_loves_a_generalist.