Why Technology Firms Should Hire Liberal Arts Majors

As companies, individuals and jobseekers from different industries and walks of life virtually converge for Denver Startup Week, many may [incorrectly] assume a lack of tech-driven experience may limit their attractiveness to tech startups. But, sometimes the most unconventional pairings – such as a technology company and a liberal arts major – can make for stellar partnerships.So many times, people look at technology companies and assume only those with a background or major in computer science or engineering get hired. That line of thinking is both incorrect and potentially detrimental for both the company and the jobseeker. Not only do tech-focused companies need skilled people in non-tech roles – think sales, marketing, client services, human resources – but hiring individuals with varied backgrounds, perspectives and personalities fosters creativity, growth and ingenuity.Let’s look specifically at why tech companies should seek out individuals with liberal arts degrees. At its heart, it comes down to companies analyzing who their client is – not simply what they sell, but what the challenges they face, how they fit into their industry, what their values are, what influences their decision-making and what drives their business beyond financials.The vast majority of tech companies aren’t building products for developers. To succeed, their focus needs to expand beyond product development and relate to their intended clients on more than a technological level. They need creative people who can thoughtfully articulate key points – who can understand how people work and what makes them tick.Hiring liberal arts majors isn’t just about hiring someone with a creative writing or a psychology degree; it’s about looking at the skills they acquired while obtaining that degree and how those skills align with some of the key job functions that relate to product development at a technology company.To give you a personal example, I hold undergraduate degrees in history and anthropology. I always planned on being a history major. When I started at the University of Colorado, I needed a science credit and decided to take anthropology. I loved learning about other cultures and how to divorce my personal experiences and biases from the culture I was studying to better understand their motivations without putting my spin on it. These skills have stayed with me throughout my professional career.By applying these principles rooted in cultural understanding and empathy on a daily basis, I’m able to better and fully understand my clients – deep diving into their organizations to learn their motivations, values, goals, why they use our product (or why they don’t) and more. I also take a close look at how they refer to themselves and what kind of language they use about their brand, customers and employees. Who are the companies and the experts they revere in the industry? With that knowledge and understanding, I am able to talk to my clients and translate Promontory MortgagePath’s services into what provides true value to them. By reaching my client in a way that fits their language, style and culture, our services work with and for them, instead of the other way around.Individuals with liberal arts degrees can take the framework of what they learned while earning their degree and apply it to business in ways that aren’t always obvious. Just as it takes a certain type of thinker to develop software from a blank screen, it takes a different type of thinker to find new ways to relate to people. By sourcing talent with backgrounds outside of computer science-related fields, tech companies can avail themselves of many of the “soft skills” often associated with a liberal arts degree, thereby creating a more well-rounded company that is centered around meeting its end users’ needs more effectively.

September 10, 2020
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