Career opportunities for career changers: from the humanities to the CEO?

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People like to talk about companies about diversity, but career changers often have a hard time with them Casting, How can you still get started? And how does a humanities scientist even become CEO?

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Opportunities for cross-borderers

Some time ago I was invited to a panel discussion at ESCP Europe Berlin. The topic: ways into the economy for career changers. With exciting results.

The question that came up to us: What chances do career changers actually have in business today? On the one hand, as my fellow discussant Peter Kraushaar, business coach and brand consultant at 9p strategy, found, there are above all larger companies with distinctive diversity management or corporate consultancy that are open to career changers who often come from the humanities.

And Sebestian Horndasch, Program Manager at the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, also notes that newcomers are frequently sought after. And even a humanities scholar can become CEO of a DAX company. But, he also limits: Of course, they also need additional qualifications.

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Special knowledge and additional qualifications needed

This is also true for the IT industry, which is the most penetrating for cross-borderers. At least I know an astounding number of spiritual scientists from orchid compartments, which today have a more technical career. This is also due to the high pressure on innovation, which means that technical development is progressing faster than training courses.

As a result, programmers with specialized knowledge, such as touchscreen programming, are often asked to find their way out. In addition to rare specialists, people are also in demand here who are ready and able to get involved.

What is the chance for a career changer?

Accordingly, one thinks quickly about the subject of professional deficit, a catchword, which the media but also the policy of the federal government long ago determined. And the question arises: Can the cross-contestant help?

As for example in the ARD reportage “The fairy tale of skilled labor“, In which I played a major role, it would be a mistake to speak of a nationwide shortage of skilled workers. The problem is not uncommon Company home-made, for example because they offer an unattractive job and / or location. And not a few companies then seek their skilled workers at a reduced cost abroad. The logic shortage of skilled labor = opportunity for lateral entrants is therefore to be treated with caution.

The communication needs to be improved

We were asked to make a statement prior to the discussion. I advocated improving communication between companies and young professionals to reduce frustration on both sides. The problem is evident in job advertisements that are often inaccurate and formulated for applicants who do not know the code. I recently wrote a blog post about mismatching between applicants and companies.

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Companies tend to see many disadvantages when they hire newcomers, and they can profit as much as they can, innovation. Whoever thinks differently brings fresh air into the company. Unfortunately, many companies are busy circles of equals, because many managers and staff prefer to hire people who are similar to them. This, unfortunately, very human trait then leads to the fact that it is difficult to think differently, that is to say, those who are on the road. And many companies simmer in their own juice.

Recruiting processes must change

In order for career chances to have a chance, recruitment needs to change in general. Frequently, non-professional applications are sorted out so that the applicants have no chance to present themselves in person.

One approach, which is already practiced in some companies, is that, instead of the HR department, the employees, ie the team itself, recommend new colleagues or even set them up completely. As a rule, they focus less on the professional qualifications, but on who really fits into the team.

What can transversers do?

But how can newcomers do it to convince companies of their abilities. What should one graduate from the field z. B. German studies or Chinese studies guess if he or she decides to switch to business? Is there a patent remedy at all?

On the one hand, you should consider your very specific skills. As humanities scholars, these are, for example, ethical thinking, corporate responsibility, language skills or intercultural skills - especially Chinese or - a little simpler - French is a terrifying number of people in everyday business life.

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Leakiness as a deficiency

And as Peter Kraushaar and Sebastian Horndasch aptly commented: Without the special knowledge that the company needs, you have no chance as a career changer. Then, as a newcomer, you also have to think carefully about what you really want: Only those who are convinced of their actions can convince others.

Perhaps there is a great weakness in the career of those who cross the road: they are often very jumpy and unsteady, or at least give this impression. Since many companies are afraid, the employee is quickly gone.

Humanities scholar as CEO?

Only those who manage to counteract this fear with employers also has a chance for career changers. This is usually achieved through self-initiative and entrepreneurial thinking.

The philosopher Steven Affeldt has even lately pointedly formulated that people with accounting degrees become accountants; People with a degree in philosophy, but CEOs. I think that's a little over the top. Certainly a CEO needs visions, creativity, and entrepreneurial thinking - traits commonly denied to a bookkeeper with a bean counter mentality, which may not be true.


However, entrepreneurial thinking is not necessarily taught in a study of the humanities, on the contrary: while studying generally helps to learn independent work and to break through, for example, through a thesis. Frequently, however, economic thinking is corrected rightly to a spiritologist.

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This is also due to the fact that entrepreneurial thinking in Germany is generally viewed rather negatively and that the picture is changing only slowly, for example through the introduction of entrepreneurial programs - including the ESCP.

3 tips for career changers

In the end, we should give each three tips, which should be taken into consideration by those who wish to reorient themselves. Here are my tips.

  1. Think carefully about where to go. Collecting experience.
  2. Make contacts, ask people who do it, where you want to go - networks, networks, networks.
  3. And in the end, when you realize that you can not get on with your qualifications like this: Maybe you have a further education or postgraduate studies, eg in business or technical areas.

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