Translating ENGL Skills to the Job Market

When writing cover letters or interviewing, you will want to explain how your experiences as an English major have prepared you to work for potential employers.

This page offers some examples of how typical assignments in English lend themselves to the workplace. You will want to reflect on your specific experiences (writing that final paper for Postcolonial Literature, presenting on Thoreau for American Romanticism) to come up with examples of how you have developed useful skills for the workplace. It is often helpful to show potential employers how you overcame a challenge: e.g., “When I started my research paper on Hamlet, I was initially overwhelmed by the amount of existing scholarship. By finding a couple of introductory works, though, I was able to figure out which sources were most likely to be important, and that let me put together a schedule for my research.”

If you can…

               …analyze a literary text:

You can read a contract, understand what a client wants even when they have trouble expressing themselves, create polished documents for clients or the general public, pick out the most salient information for decision-making, defend your position on how to move forward, listen carefully to the positions of others.

             …produce a substantial research paper:

You can break down large projects into manageable parts, navigate online sources beyond Google, organize information and data as you accumulate it, think critically about the value of different information sources, prioritize the most important or surprising data, formulate arguments about your data to present to supervisors or clients.

             …write stories, poems, or creative nonfiction:

You can explain the backstory of a situation and the narrative of what to do next, turn dry facts into an appealing document or presentation, see things from multiple perspectives, assess the needs and desires of an audience, come up with creative solutions, accept and learn from criticism, collaborate with a writing team, write so that every word counts.

             …make a presentation on background information or your own writing:

You can confidently speak to groups of coworkers and clients (or potential clients), understand the needs of your audience and anticipate which points to emphasize, use facts and graphics to prove and explain your ideas, think on your feet and respond to questions and ideas from others, manage valuable time both while preparing presentations and while giving them.