Getting a Remote Job Outside of Your Major: 8 Tips for Success

Working at a job outside of your major

Choosing the right college major to blend your interests and financial security after your studies is a crucial life decision. But let’s face it—your tastes change over time. What seemed like a stellar career path at 18 or 22 doesn’t seem so enthralling now. If you feel detached from your current job or want to pursue a new career path, you aren’t alone. Getting a remote job outside of your major isn’t a foreign concept for many.

According to the most recent statistics available, a Washington Post survey showed that only 27% of college graduates hold a job within their field of study. This staggering figure not only shows the imbalance of available jobs for college graduates but also how people may find another pursuit outside their major that’s more interesting or financially lucrative.

The remote job market is no different. With millions of Americans shifting gears and applying for remote positions—even ones outside their major—competition is fierce. Fortunately, you can still vie for these jobs with other qualified candidates, even if you didn’t study a particular subject at your university. Discover ways to obtain and excel at a remote job outside of your major with these helpful tips.

1. Don’t Be Afraid

When I graduated from college, I had a double major in Finance and Music Performance. Yes, I know. It’s the perfect one-two punch in the business world. Right after college, I joined a band, touring from place to place and working side gigs as a bartender and seasonal merchandiser to support my dream of being a musician.

When I found out I wasn’t going to become the next Slash, I was beside myself. To compound matters, the finance ship had sailed. Few companies, if any, were willing to even grant an interview for an entry-level job to a 27-year-old finance graduate. Plus, after playing gigs and traveling, the thought of a desk job wasn’t exactly my idea of paradise.

So I started pursuing other avenues in my spare time with the grandiose plan of being able to work remotely and travel the world. Instead of a guitar, I was armed with a laptop. The funny thing was that I could make more of an impact toward a career path, earn a living, and at least do the traveling part that I loved so much when I was touring.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult, and at times, I felt like a desk job was a comfortable place to reside. But it wasn’t thrilling and it wasn’t exciting.

That’s just me though. Everyone’s different. The most important idea to take from my anecdote is that fear may be the only thing holding you back from success, especially in a remote job. Take a deep breath. Even if you don’t have experience in your remote field, you have all the tools necessary to secure a job and excel at it. Trust me. It’s possible. Don’t be afraid.

2. Find Your Passion

Blending a remote job with passion is a modern phenomenon. Even 20 or 30 years ago, career and passion were mutually exclusive. Yet the advent of the internet and the ability to work from anywhere has afforded us the opportunity to find our niche. The only dilemma is discovering what passion translates into remote work.

In this facet, the idea is to find a remote job that uses your skills and interests to help a company or individual succeed in their goals. If you love to travel, becoming a remote travel agent or writing about travel allows others to enjoy a unique experience. From your perspective, you can find a rewarding career path that mixes your love with financial security.

Oftentimes, this may seem impossible. But some investigation and exploration of available remote job opportunities, you can find a position that you didn’t know existed. This allows you to expand your career horizons, all while narrowing the scope of your search—a proverbial two-birds-with-one-stone situation.

3. Overcome the Relevant Job Experience Paradox

Succeeding in a remote job outside your major is a conundrum simply because you don’t always have the experience or expertise that translates to another position. However, this is a hindrance you can overcome by letting your other skills shine. When you’re talented, hard-working, and show results, your employer is far more likely to consider you for a role within another department.

Make your interest in other job opportunities within your company known to your boss, especially if you want to transition to a remote job. You might be surprised how willing they are to accommodate you, thereby eliminating your need to search job boards or other companies for a newfound position.

If your current employer doesn’t offer remote work, the opportunity to gain employment elsewhere is still viable. All you need is a cover letter that highlights your relevant skills and your eagerness to excel at a position outside of your major. While someone with experience in that field may have a more impressive resume, your cover letter will stand out from the rest. You may have to send out more applications, but that’s all part of the perseverance and fortitude of succeeding in a new remote job.

4. Network, Network, Network

The mantra of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is alive and well, even in the remote realm. Therefore, you should use every opportunity to network with those in your desired field. Attend networking events or join online communities geared toward your industry. This helps you meet other like-minded individuals and lets you see if you gel with others in your chosen path. In addition, you can find a foothold within the industry, gather intel on how to succeed, and find ways to boost your attractiveness as a candidate. 

If you’re completely new to the industry or you’re going for a total career 180, you can also visualize the stepping stones from where you are to where you need to be to obtain employment. Never underestimate the importance of networking, even if you’re working from home, on the road, or transitioning to a new remote job outside of your major.

5. Take Your Industry Knowledge to the Next Level

If you were a chemistry major, you know all about titrations, chemical reactions, ions, isotopes, and more. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate nor does it matter if you want to make the transition to a marketing job. To impress potential employers to succeed in your new marketing position, you need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of marketing strategies, practices, and anything else that helps you succeed.

Unlike your college major, you can’t rely on professors, classes, and grades to demonstrate your conceptual knowledge of a topic. Instead, it’s all on your shoulders. But don’t fear. The internet provides a wealth of knowledge for beginners and newcomers all the way to advanced professionals and experts.

Online classes, certifications, quizzes, exams, and other resource materials are readily available for free or for a nominal fee. While some websites are better than others, many provide the industry knowledge you require to become a major player in your industry. These resources are invaluable if you’re in a remote job outside your major, allowing you to gain the information you need to succeed without having to shell out thousands of dollars for traditional university classes.

6. Retool Your Resume

Although your cover letter is integral in finding a remote job outside your major, don’t neglect your resume. If possible, you should highlight relevant job experience from prior positions that pertains to your new career. You’ll also need to rewrite your skills and achievements to showcase your ability to get results. Regardless of your employment history, you have to prove that you can excel in your position through prior work.

Once you’ve gained an appropriate level of industry knowledge, you should have an idea of what skills you need to excel at your desired position. These skills are what you need to put at the top of any correspondence or documentation to your potential employer.

7. Highlight Your Skillset and Apply It

If you’ve already secured a job but you aren’t sure exactly how to take your career to the next level, don’t fret. Take a look at your tangible and intangible qualities that made you a success at your previous job and apply them to your new position. For example, if you had a leadership role in your prior position, embrace that role whenever you can at your new job.

Although asserting yourself remotely is tougher than you’d find in an office job, apply these methods for success:

  • Take on extra projects if you can feasibly complete them on time
  • Ask your employer if there’s anything else they need
  • Complete your tasks days ahead of your given deadline, if possible

If you adhere to these three simple principles, you’ll notice that you might be given more responsibility or a larger workload. The good news is that these are two of the hallmarks of excelling at a new job.

8. Remember That You Have the Skills to Succeed

No matter what field you decide to enter, remember that you have the skills to succeed. You went through all the classes in college—no matter how boring or dull—and found your way to a diploma. Don’t forget that. Only 34% of the American population has achieved a bachelor’s degree. That’s a testament to your hard work already.

A college major is an integral step toward financial independence, mental well-being, and a rewarding career. However, it’s not a decision that defines the rest of your work life. Mixed with a strong work ethic, the perfect set of soft skills, and a can-do attitude, your next remote job may not be exactly what you thought at 18 years old, but it’s certainly one that can lead to the next successful chapter of your life.


Do you work at a remote job outside of your major? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you!

iStock image: RichLegg


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