Do You Have a “Worthless” Degree?

It’s not as bad as it’s commonly made out to be – if you use it to your advantage.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It’s not as bad as it’s commonly made out to be – if you use it to your advantage.

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Maybe it’s a running joke among your friends. Or maybe you’ve read several online articles about it. Either way, you probably know that certain bachelor’s degrees are commonly thought to be “worthless”.

Some fields just don’t require a degree as much as they do plain skills and experience (music, theatre arts), which has led some people to see these degrees as a waste of resources.

Then there are certain degrees that may seem too general (history, philosophy) to compete with specialised degrees (law, engineering), and those that are so specialised that there are too few jobs for them (art history, anthropology).

There are also degrees that require you to pursue further education in order to work in your favour. For example, you can’t become a psychologist even if you have a psychology degree – you’ll have to get a doctoral degree for that. You could be a counsellor or social worker, but if that wasn’t your original plan and you don’t have the means to carry on studying, you may find yourself stuck.

As it is, the cost of education is high, so it can be worrying that the piece of paper you get at the end seems unneeded, or worse, leaves you with a bill you can’t pay off – especially since degrees are meant to increase your opportunities and earnings.

The good news is, a “worthless” degree can open more doors for you than you think. “No degree is worthless, and you should take actionable steps towards your career goals regardless of your discipline [to make the most of it],” says Rasidah Mohamed Rasid, Senior Career Coach at Workforce Singapore. Here are four tips from career coaches on how to sell it right.

Know the market

To find out where you are employable, you have to know the landscape. This involves lots of research, but it will greatly help you find the right path for you.

“Take part in career fairs, networking events and job search workshops so you have better insight as to what the available jobs are, where your degree fits in and which sector or organisation requires your skill sets,” says Rasidah. 

Check out the Workforce Singapore site ( for a comprehensive list of job fairs taking place.

Figure out how to really sell yourself

The trick to finding a job is putting yourself out there in a way that prospective employers recognise your value and what you can bring to the table.

“Pay attention to how you craft your resume, and craft one that ‘sells’ your value to prospective employers. Showing how you can add value to the job you’re applying for will help differentiate you from your peers,” recommends Rasidah.

Think laterally – for instance, if you studied philosophy, not only does this mean you know a lot about Plato, but your ability to look at problems from a variety of perspectives isa great management skill set. 

Your skill in communicating ideas clearly and logically is also a valuable asset, no matter what industry you’re in.

Track the trends

Constantly upgrade your portfolio to stay competitive in the job market. The key is to continuously pick up new skills.

“Regardless of your qualifications, it always helps to stay abreast of industry trends and be aware of skills that are in demand,” says Wendy Heng of Robert Walters Singapore. “If you’re a marketing professional, it might be useful to be equipped with skills in social media marketing, mobile marketing, project management and content development. You can also upgrade your skills by taking advantage of free online courses on websites like Coursera.”

Make yourself the right team fit

These days, many people have paper qualifications, so it’s vital that you set yourself apart. “Employers look for jobseekers with strong interpersonal skills.” adds Rasidah. While these traits aren’t directly related to your degree, you will win people over with your personality. “It’s important to have a positive mindset, as this will show in your interactions with them,” she says. 

“You’ll need to constantly upgrade your skills to keep up with the demands of the ever-changing job market.”
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Images Text Adora Wong.