I think you'll agree that
finding a new job is a bleak affair. The endless scrolling through job boards, the perpetual tweaking of one's résumé, the Sisyphean task of re-typing all of your work experience once you've already uploaded your résumé... it's enough to make you want to abandon society and take up residence in a peat bog. And that's before you even get to the interview stage. The job market is not exactly overflowing with challenging, well-paid opportunities right now. But, if you like to read, you might just have a few secret tricks up your sleeve. Here are a few skills book-lovers have that will help you with your résumé, your job interviews, and your new career.
I'm sure there are book-lovers out there who were wise enough to major in computer science or finance or being rich, and you're all probably doing just fine. But quite a few book-lovers wound up in the humanities, and it can be a tad discouraging to apply for roughly 500 unpaid internships a day and come up empty. Either way, if you like to read and you're looking for work, you should know that every book-lover has a set of skills that'll help you out, no matter what field you're in:
Most people don't think of "reading" as a marketable skill. But being able to proofread your cover letter and résumé is actually pretty crucial when it comes to making a good impression on employers. If you're a dedicated reader, you probably already have a trained eye for catching typos, awkward phrasing, and missing Oxford commas.
Reading in between the lines
more important than proofreading, a true book-lover has acquired the skill to read in between the lines. You can spot foreshadowing and dramatic clichés from a mile a way. It's not a huge jump to apply this deductive reading skill to job postings as well (i.e. understanding that "you will have the unique experience to learn from trained professionals" is code for "this internship is unpaid").
It may sound silly, but readers (especially fiction readers) are highly trained in the art of imagination. I mean, reading is basically just staring at squiggles on a page and imagining that you're somewhere else. Creativity and vision are a vital part of
any professional field. Besides, you're going to be coming across a lot of job postings that you feel under-qualified for. If you can't imagine yourself in that position, neither can your future employer.
Whether you're a loquacious book-lover or a more taciturn bibliophile, all that reading has probably given you a considerable vocabulary. Don't pepper big words into your cover letters and interviews just to seem momentously eloquent, but
do use your vocab to your advantage. Saying that you "helped around the office" in your last job is not nearly as impressive as saying that you "coordinated administrative tasks."
Yes, being uptight about grammar is actually fairly annoying. Sometimes "proper grammar" is just a way of discriminating against different varieties of English.
But most employers are still going to toss any cover letter that mixes up "your" and "you're." You've read enough books to know your "its" from your "it's" and your "their" from your "they're" or "there." You should be able to throw together a polished paragraph without thinking twice.
A reasonable attention span
Book-lovers have the ability to sit down and focus on a book, sometimes for hours at a time (usually hours during which you're supposed to be sleeping). Not everyone can do that. Even if you're an easily distracted book-lover, you have enough of those magical reading focus skills to crank out a cover letter or résumé, or to stay present during a job interview.
Intense research abilities
A lot of jobs require research skills. And even if you don't need to research for the job itself, it's helpful to research the company
beforehand so you know what you're getting into (for example, what kind of in-office snacks do they offer?). Every dedicated reader has the power to be a powerful researcher since researching these days is mostly reading + googling, anyway.
Reading is usually a solitary activity, so most readers feel comfortable taking on tasks by themselves. If you can read the entire Song of Ice and Fire by yourself, creating a spreadsheet isn't much of a challenge. Working with others is a must for most jobs, but so is self-reliance: if you can show your future employer that you're comfortable working alone and taking initiative, you're going to be ahead of the game.
Reading makes you a more empathetic person. At least, habitual fiction readers have been shown to feel more deeply for their fellow humans. This may not seem like a boon in the workplace, but emotional intelligence is actually a huge factor when it comes to new hires. If you come across as empathetic and easy to work with in your interview, you have a far better chance of making it onto the team.
A library’s worth of literary references
I know that name dropping famous authors may not win every future bosses' heart, but being well-read is surprisingly helpful in all walks of life. Understanding literary touchstones (like correctly using the words "Orwellian" and "Kafkaesque") is a skill, especially if you're trying to break into a field in the humanities. Just be sure not to derail your interview with a detailed description of your favorite book series and why two fictional characters should totally kiss.
The power to tell a good story
It's impossible to read without picking up a thing or two about writing. Whether in a cover letter or in an interview, applying for jobs is all about presenting yourself in a positive light. If you can tell a compelling story, even if it's just the story of how you came to love data processing, you'll be much more appealing as an applicant. Just make sure you're telling a
true story, even if you do take the occasional artistic liberty. Images: mybookbath/Instagram