Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden Humanities graduates more likely to find graduate-level job

Our humanities graduates are doing well: 70% of our bachelor’s and master’s students find their first job within two months of graduation. And for 83% of our master’s students that first job is at a higher professional or academic level. These are some of the results of the Faculty of Humanities labour market survey that is held every four years.

A knowledge investment that pays off

The labour market survey asked alumni who graduated in 2016-2020 for their experiences. The results show that they soon found a suitable job. The majority of our bachelor’s students went on to do a master’s degree, and this knowledge investment paid off. Whereas 70% of the bachelor’s graduates found a job at a higher professional and academic level, an impressive 83% of the master’s graduates did. That is an increase of 9% compared to 2016. When it comes to the duration of the job search, there was little difference between the bachelor’s and master’s graduates. Around 70% found their first job within two months of graduating.

Variety of sectors

Our humanities alumni end up in a variety of sectors. Two years after graduation, they can be found in the non-profit (55%) or profit sector (41%), or working as a freelancer (4%). Loes Nordlohne, career advisor at the Faculty: ‘Many people think that humanities graduates mainly end up in education, but the survey shows that the majority find work in other sectors.’

Our graduates work in government (15%), communication (8%), media and journalism (4%), consultancy (5%) and ICT (4%).

Differentiating skills

Humanities graduates are valued by employers not only for their professional knowledge and academic skills such as writing and analysis, but also for their intercultural skills. Leiden alumnus in Religious Studies Jaino Mohammedamin agrees: ‘In my History degree, I learned to look at what motivates people, why they do the things that they do. Don’t think in black and white, but look for the grey areas and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is how you get to the heart of the matter. This is a good fit for my current job as Project Leader and Advisor for Organised Crime at the Tactical Centre for Enforcement at the Municipality of Rotterdam.’

Career preparation

The research also shows that relevant work experience, board experience, a network and internships help graduates find the right job. It takes alumni with relevant work experience less time to find a job after graduation than alumni without this experience (60% versus 46%). Alumnus Thomas de Greeve (Bachelor’s and Master’s in History and now an analyst at Knab), offers a useful piece of advice: ‘Talk to lots of people before you start looking for a job. That works better than just looking at job vacancies. Ask others about what they do and their experiences. Also visit a secondment agency. This will help you discover what you like and what kind of work suits you best.’

Educational innovation

The labour market survey also offers valuable feedback to study programmes. Mirjam de Baar, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Humanities: ‘The results of the labour market survey help drive innovation in our programmes. In recent years, for example, more attention has been paid to collaboration and digital skills. The International Studies curriculum now includes a consultancy case study, for example. Here students gain more awareness of their knowledge and skills in a professional situation and are thus better prepared for the labour market.’

About the labour market survey

The labour market survey was carried out by DESAN Research Solutions in early 2020 on behalf of the Faculty of Humanities. It included alumni who had graduated in languages, cultures, area studies, international relations, history, philosophy, art and religious studies. The survey ran from 29 January to 5 March 2020. Of the 4,843 alumni who were approached, 1,222 (25.2%) completed the online questionnaire. Loes Nordlohne: ‘We also conducted a non-response analysis. This showed that the respondents were representative of the larger group, which means that the non-respondents did not differ significantly from the respondents. In fact, they were slightly more likely to have a paid job and were slightly more satisfied with their career development.’

Before and after corona

This alumni survey was held before the corona crisis broke out. The uncertain times in which we now find ourselves will also affect the labour market for our future alumni. Mirjam de Baar: ‘Obviously, the labour market is always subject to social and political developments. But I am convinced that humanities alumni can make a valuable contribution in a world of globalisation, migration, the politicisation of culture and the rise of new superpowers. We train our students to be critical and independent thinkers who can resolve the many challenges that today’s world presents.’

Download the abridged brochure or see the full brochure online at www.jobperspectives.nl for more survey results. Here you will find out more about how satisfied our alumni are with their degree programme and their main task in their first job as well as their personal stories.

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