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What to do with a Bachelors' Degree in Psychology?

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Job Search: A Three Step Approach

The Three Steps

  1. Identify Your Job Objective

    1. Career Assessment Services
    2. Career Assessment Tests
    3. University Placement
    4. Career and Study Skills Center
    5. Additional Resources on Careers

  2. Explore Job Possibilities

    1. Career Leads
    2. Hiring Institutions

  3. Presenting Yourself Effectively

    1. Writing Your Letter of Application
    2. Business Letter Form: A Checklist
    3. Letter of Application Outline
    4. Writing Resumés
    5. Content of Resumé


Example of a Letter of Application

Example of Resumé

Resumé Worksheet


Today's job market is competitive, and many college graduates are concerned about career opportunities available to them. Undergraduates in psychology are no exception. Though some individuals continue their formal education immediately after receiving a bachelor's degree, many other individuals -- for a variety of reasons -- seek permanent employment after completing their bachelor's degree in psychology. For example, in the Department of Psychology at Oklahoma State University, approximately 70 percent of undergraduates pursue jobs after completing their bachelor's degree.

The primary goal of this web page is to serve as a resource for psychology majors planning an employment search. Information about the career and placement services offered at Oklahoma State University is discussed. Also listed are useful references on career opportunities in the field of psychology.

Though locating a potential employer is important, presenting a professional and impressive resumé to the potential employer is equally as important. Therefore, as a secondary goal, this web page also includes general guidelines, tips, and examples on creating successful resumés and letters of applications.

After reading this web page, readers hould feel more confident in 1) knowing that professional careers exist for people who have completed a bachelor's degree in psychology and 2) searching for a job which utilizes their skills and knowledge.

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Towards the First Step

The undergraduate curriculum in psychology is a liberal arts degree. A liberal arts degree is meant to open the mind to new ideas and give a better understanding of the world. The degree taught you a better understanding of how to think, analyze, and express yourself clearly. It is these critical thinking skills which employers desire.

When you graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology, you will not be a psychologist. Rather you will have a greater understanding of human behavior. This knowledge is relevant to many occupations which involve interactions with others. The combination of a liberal arts and psychology background makes your education marketable in many job areas. It is up to you, however, to find a vocation to put your education to use.


The content of this web page is organized in three sections discussing the steps involved in any job search: 1) identify your job objective, 2) explore your job opportunities, and 3) present yourself effectively.

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1. Identify Your Job Objective

The first step in your job search is to identify what type of job you want to have. Simply stating that you "want to go into a 'psychology' field and work with people" is not specific enough. Put some thought into the work environment you would like to have and the type of people you would like to work with. Ask yourself what type of position you want to have: in social service jobs (ex. Department of Human Services); in mental health fields (i. e. hospital wards, treatment centers); in non-mental health areas (i. e. retail, marketing, sales)? Make a broad career objective, then narrow the objective in the next section. If you are not sure of the types of positions you could apply to, consider using outside resources. Career assessment tests, occupational literature, and career counselors available on campus can assist you in identifying your job objectives.

Career Assessment Services

Oklahoma State University Counseling Services offers assessment tests to assist students in making decisions about future career goals. The various tests can provide names of occupations that fall within your interests. This office can also provide you with job outlooks and salary averages for specific occupations.

The usefulness of career assessment tests is determined by you and the counselor assigned to you. The assessments reveal variables that are crucial to success in the occupation you choose. Some variables reviewed are: your interests, your psychological temperament, and your decision making skills.

A brief summary of several career assessment tests -- available through the University Counseling Services (USC) -- is listed below. A complete list of the tests is available by contacting the USC office at 310 Student Union. You can call 744-5472 to set up an appointment to take a test.

A fee is charged for each career test. The test fee is around $7.50 and can be charged to your bursar account. There is no fee for career counseling or interpretation of tests. Career testing for non-students is done on a space available basis only, and the cost of each test for non-students is around $30.00.

List of Career Assessment Tests:

CALIFORNIA PSYCHOLOGICAL INVENTORY. The California Psychological Inventory is a personality assessment for college students and other adults. It measures different facets of normal personality. These facets include the way an individual interacts with other people and the view of one's self in relations to others. Work ethics, managerial potential and achievement orientation are also assessed.

EDWARDS PERSONAL PREFERENCE SCHEDULE. The Edwards Personal Preference Schedule provides measures of fifteen normal personality variables. These variables are presented as needs that individuals have in relation to other people, achievement, and control over the environment.

TEMPERAMENT AND VALUES INVENTORY. The Temperament and Values Inventory assesses how an individual reacts to various activities and situations. The reward scales measure what aspects of a job an individual finds most motivating.

THE VALUES SCALE. The Values Scale is an inventory of satisfaction values that people seek in their lives in relation to their work. It provides information important in the selection of a career and work environment.

CAREER MATURITY INVENTORY. This inventory consists of an attitude scale and a knowledge test. The purpose of the instrument is to measure a person's attitudes toward career choice and their level of readiness to make decisions.

DISCOVER. DISCOVER is a computerized Career Information System that provides assessment of interests, abilities, values and experiences which are used to generate a list of occupations that relate to the student's interests. Information about occupations, including job outlook and salary averages, is also available.

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University Placement

The University Placement (UP) office is located on the campus of Oklahoma State University and assists OSU students and graduates in finding employment. It offers programs and services throughout the academic year to help students begin the job search process.

In order to be eligible to register for participation in UP, one of the following criteria must be meet:

  • Current student or graduate of the College of:
    • Arts & Sciences
    • Business Administration
    • Education
    • Home Economics
    • (Students and graduates of any other College should contact their respective college service/placement office)
  • Former student who:
    • earned at least 30 credit hours from OSU
    • received a degree from another institution in a major
    • comparable to a major in the UP registration area.
  • Individuals who have earned a degree from another institution and who have earned at least 12 hours toward professional certification at OSU

University Placement Programs and Services

  • Resumé Assistance
    • Resumé counseling
    • Resumé critiquing
  • Referrals to Employers
    • Student's resumé is made available to employers
  • Employment Counseling
  • Placement Credential Service
  • Job Vacancy Information
    • Off Campus Job Listings
    • Oklahoma Employer File
    • Referrals
  • Career and Employer Library
  • Participation in On-Campus Interviews
  • Participation in Special Events
    • Local Area Employment Day
    • Employer Emphasis Day (mock interviews)
    • Graduate School Information Day
    • Quad University Job Fair
    • MBA Job Fair
    • Senior Seminars
    • Minority Career Fairs
    • Summer Job Placement Day
    • Internship Placement Days
    • Teacher Placement Days

University Placement is located at Room 360 Student Union, 744-5253.

Open: Monday-Friday: 8:00 - 12:00 & 1:00 - 500 & closed during the lunch hour.

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Career and Study Skills Center

When searching for a job, you should explore all the resources available which can assist in picking the job in your identified field. The more known about what occupations exist, the easier it is to apply for that occupation.

The Career and Study Skills Center at Oklahoma State University is a valuable resource during a job search. It provides excellent resources on job possibilities for different areas of study. The office is open to the public and can be used free of charge. It provides the following resources:

  • Information Files
  • Career Information Books
  • Department of Labor Publications
  • Video Tape Library
  • Study Skills Information

Career and Study Skills Center
308 Student Union
Monday-Friday: 8:30 to 5:00
Wednesday: 8:30 to 7:00

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Additional Resources on Careers

Burger, William R., Schmolling, Paul, & Youkeles, Merrill. Careers in Mental Health: A Guide to Helping Occupations. Garrett Park Press: Garrett Park. 1986

Collison, Brooke B., & Garfield, Nancy J. Career in Counseling and Human Development. American Association for Counseling and Development: Alexandria. 1990.

Malnig, Lawrence. What Can I Do With A Major In ...? Abbott Press: Ridgefield. 1984.

These books are available through the Career and Study Skills Center at Oklahoma State University, libraries, the publisher, or local bookstores.

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2. Explore Job Possibilities

Once you know your job objective, the second step is to explore the job opportunities available for the position(s) you are seeking. You should begin your job search at least 3 months before you expect to be employed. The employer can take that amount of time to make a decision as to who to hire. Start by reading through current employment files, and utilizing all the career placement services mentioned in this web page. Read the want ads in local papers. Keep in mind that you should apply to more than one place. Don't expect to get the first job to which you apply. Don't send a batch of applications and wait around to be hired: continue searching for jobs until you are hired.

Career Leads

The following is a variety of areas, as published by Malnig (1984), which can utilize a bachelor's degree in psychology:

  • hospitals as assistants to psychologists and other professionals
  • rehabilitation centers
  • correctional institutions
  • business and industry doing market research, testing job applicants, or training new employees

Because the field of psychology can be applicable to many aspects of life, the career leads can be quite broad. Examples of job titles utilizing a bachelor's degree in psychology may include:

  • Advertising manager
  • Clergy member
  • Community-organization worker
  • Consumer affairs director
  • Council-on-Aging/director
  • Counselor (guidance, rehabilitation, residence, vocational)
  • Management trainee
  • Manager/employee welfare
  • Market research analyst
  • Nurse
  • Personnel manager
  • Placement director
  • Police officer
  • Prisoner-classification interviewer
  • Probation officer
  • Public Relations Representative
  • Recreation director
  • Research Assistant
  • Sales agent (psychological tests and industrial relations)
  • Writer (prose, fiction, nonfiction)
  • Writer/technical publications

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Hiring Institutions

Some businesses will advertise open positions in local papers or placement offices. Other businesses may not advertise open positions, but rely on word-of-mouth by posting open positions on office bulletin boards. Find out where these position postings are located for businesses with whom you would like to work, and check them once a week. You can look up the addresses or phone numbers of most of the below listed institutions in a phone book. Contact the personnel director or other source to inquire about employment opportunities and the specific application process.

Check the following areas (Malnig, 1984):

  • Adoption and Child Care Agencies
  • Advertising Departments and Agencies
  • Air, Bus, and Rail Lines
  • Business Corporations
  • Churches and Religious Organizations
  • Colleges and Schools
  • Community Organizations
    • Recreation Departments
    • YM-YWCAs
    • YM-YWHAs
    • Scouts, etc.
  • Correctional Institutions
  • Court System
  • Department Stores
  • Educational Institutions
  • Educational Periodicals
  • Governmental Agencies
    • Civil Rights Commission
    • Consumer Affairs Office
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Federal Communications Commission
    • Foreign Service
    • Health and Human Services Department
    • Labor Department
    • National Science Foundation
    • Peace Corps
    • Veteran's Administration
    • Vista
  • Hospitals
  • Industries
  • Magazines, Newspapers
  • Management-Consulting Firms
  • Market-Research Departments and Firms
  • Mental Health Associations
  • Nursing Homes
  • Orphanages
  • Personnel Departments
  • Professional/Technical Journals
  • Public-Opinion Research Companies
  • Public-Relations Firms
  • Public Schools
  • Publishing Companies
  • Research Institutes
  • Social-Service Institutes
  • Test-Development Corporations
  • Zoos

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3. Present Yourself Effectively

Once you know which job openings you will apply for, prepare your letter of application and resumé carefully to present yourself in a professional and impressive manner to your employer. Many times, this step is overlooked.

Writing Your Letter of Application

Your letter of application is the cover letter to your resumé. It goes to the same readers and has the same general objective: to explain your qualifications for the job.

The goal of the letter is to convey some sense of your personality. Employers want to know what you are like as an individual and what you would be like as an employee. This information cannot be readily provided in a resumé (which is more like a table of data than an expression of your personal characteristics).

In a resumé, the information is presented in a general way which is applicable to several employers. In a letter of application, however, employers will want you to explain how your specific qualifications match the requirements of the particular job they offer (Anderson, 1991). The letter should explain what you have to offer the company should they hire you.

The major objectives of your letter are: to convey your personality and your interest in your employing organization; to convey your perception of the relationship between your qualifications and the job opening.

An example letter of application is included in this web page. Also, books are available in the OSU Library and from the Placement Office on how to write a letter of application.

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Business Letter From: A Checklist

Carefully consider the following specifications as you compose your letter of application.

  • Use a letter quality printer, good white paper stock, and a good printing font.
  • Check the spelling and grammar used!
  • Margins should be no less than one inch on all four sides.
  • Paragraphs should be single-spaced with double spacing between paragraphs
  • Include all parts of a business letter:
    • Return address
    • Date
    • Inside address
    • Salutation (followed by a colon)
    • Body
    • Complimentary close (followed by a comma)
    • Signature (handwritten)
    • Typed name

Letter of Application Outline

INTRODUCTION (One Paragraph)

    • Name a specific position you would like to interview for with a specific company.
  • SCOPE:
    • How did you learn about the position or company?
    • Why do you want this position
    • Why do you want to work for this company?
    • What do you know about this position or company?
    • Use scope to lead into qualifications.
    • Identify main areas of your qualifications to lead into your discussion


    • Tell about your special skills.
    • Discuss only what qualifies you for this position.
    • Tailor your experiences to the position.
    • Refer the reader to your resumé.
    • Sell yourself, your experience, knowledge, character, and desire to work for this company.

CONCLUSION (One paragraph)

    • Ask for interview.
    • Confirm your interest in working for this company.
    • Tell them how to reach you and when you are available.
  • CLOSE:
    • Add a thank you for their time and consideration.
    • Sign your name in ink (Use the name you go by in your resumé)
    • Indicate your desire for an interview
    • Add enclosure for your resumé

All of this should fit onto one page. Attach a second page only if absolutely necessary.

An example of a letter of application is included in this web page.

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Writing Resumés

A resumé is a summary of your qualifications, skills, and background. The purpose of a resumé is to provide an at-a-glance view of your experiences. Your resumé should include the five W's:

  • Who you are
  • What you would like to do
  • What you know
  • What you have done
  • What you can do for the employer

Two general types of resumés exist:

  • Chronological: a record listing work and education from past to present
  • Functional: a record listing your skills and qualifications topically. This type is suited for those with gaps in employment history and/or who have been in the work force for awhile.

Whichever type of resumé best suits your needs, it should be able to convey its message very concisely and efficiently. Employers do not want to sort through wordy and lengthy resumés. The average "scanning" time that an employer devotes to a resumé is only twenty seconds (Bowman, 1992). For this reason, try to limit your resumé to one page.

Tips for Writing Resumés

  • Justify every entry in the resumé. Ask: Does it help?
  • Emphasize skills/accomplishments. Avoid the negative.
  • Keep writing style simple and brief.
  • Begin sentences with powerful action verbs.
  • Confine the resumé to one page if possible- no more than two.
  • Use headings, underlining, boldface type, or capital letters to give structure.
  • Use good, wide margins - one inch is a minimum.
  • Do not put anything important in the upper left-hand corner where people staple or paper clip pages.
  • Use standard size, white or off-white paper. Do not use colored paper just to make your resumé look different from others; instead, make it better than others. You will be judged on content.
  • Prepare a perfect (typeset or work processed) final document. A sloppy resumé indicates a sloppy or incompetent person.


Do Include:

Your Name, address(es), telephone number(s) with area codes. Include both permanent and temporary ones. Make sure to include your school and home telephone numbers.

Career/job objective (optional) - This is a brief sentence which explains what your employment goals are.

Education (list most recent first)
Name of school, city, and state
Dates - years only, or month of expected graduation
Degree - type, major, minor
Academic honors, courses taken

Qualifications and Experience
Chronological Format:

  • Employer - name of organization, city and state
  • Title of job held
  • Dates of employment
  • Duties of that job

Functional Format:

  • Categories of skills and experience
  • Reverse chronological list of jobs

Additional Information (if relevant to job you are seeking)

Languages/Special Skills
Volunteer experience


  • Include on a separate sheet.
  • Provide your references if required.
  • List the names, position, address, and phone numbers of at least three people who can speak on your behalf.
  • You should have the permission of these people prior to submitting them with your resumé.

Do Not Include:

  • Height, weight, age, marital status, gender, race, or health - This information is not relevant.
  • High school accomplishments - This information is not relevant.
  • A photograph - the employer may be discriminatory towards certain attributes.
  • Salary requirements - This is discussed during the interview.
  • Reasons for leaving a previous job.
  • Grade point average if it is low or you know that it is not required - do not list anything that might receive a negative view from your potential employer
  • Hobbies, activities, and memberships not relevant to job objective or current career goal. These can be discussed during the interview.

An example of a resumé is included on this web page.

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Anderson, Paul V. (1991). Technical writing: A reader's centered approach (2nd ed.). Orlando: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich College Publications.

Bowman, David. (1992). Selling Yourself - by Letter. The Kinko's Communicator Fall, 1.

Career and Study Skills Center, (1992). Career Assessments. Stillwater: University Counseling Services.

Technical Writing Teaching Staff, (1992). ENGLISH 3323: Intermediate Technical Report Writing. Stillwater: Oklahoma State University English Department.

Malnig, Lawrence. (1984). What Can I Do With A Major In...?Ridgefield: Abbott Press.

Strode Funeral Home. (1992). Directory of Community Services, Vol. XII, Stillwater: Strode Funeral Home.

University Placement. (1992). University Placement Registrant Handbook. Stillwater: Oklahoma State University.

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231 North Main
Stillwater, OK 74074
August 4, 1994

Ms. Valerie Donaldson, Executive Director
Stillwater Group Homes, Inc.
910 W. 11th
Stillwater, OK 74074

Dear Ms. Donaldson:

I would like to be considered for the position of House Manager working with persons with disabilities. My academic training and personal experience working with disabled persons give me a broad understanding of the obstacles facing the disabled public today. The following is a brief outline of my related educational and professional experiences.

At Oklahoma State University, my education has been more than an academic pursuit. During the past several years, I have represented OSU in the field of technology at the 1992 World Summit, been featured as an undergraduate in research for a promotional film, and presented research data at faculty poster presentations. On several occasions I have presented information on policies, current events, inspirational topics, engineering studies. These events allowed me to achieve a high level of success in public relations and communications.

I have an interest in developing test equipment for research in biomechanics. I have assisted with the design of such equipment in a private company. Most recently, I helped design a device that allows lower limb amputees to ride a stationary bicycle.

I would be grateful to discuss further details in an interview. Please write me at the above address or leave a message at 405-624-0000. Because of my interest and enthusiasm in serving others, I am confident that I can succeed in this job. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Amy Smith

Enclosure: Resumé

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Example Resumé

231 N. Main
Stillwater, OK 74074
(405) 624-0000
JOB OBJECTIVE Serve as youth guidance counselor in personal or academic matters.  
EDUCATION B.S. - Psychology (anticipated May 1994) Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK Minors: Philosophy and Spanish G.P.A. 3.2 overall; 3.5 in major  
SPECIAL SKILLS Wordperfect v.5.1  
EXPERIENCE Position: Administrative Assistant Adult Student Services August 1992 Oklahoma State University
Duties: Organized adult program memos Proofread documents
August 1992 Position: Peer Counselor College Club to present Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Duties Counsel and tutor disabled students
August 1991
to present
Position: Peer Counselor August 1991 College Club to present Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma Duties Counsel and tutor disabled students  
VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE Summer counselor for high school camp  
Psychology Club member  
REFERENCES Provided upon request  

Resumé Worksheet

Your Name Here

Campus Address:                        Permanent Address:

Career Objective


Work Experience:

Honors and Activities:

Skills and Interests:

Data available:


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Send your comments to:
Academic Advisor
Department of Psychology
102 N. Murray
Stillwater, Ok 74078

Back to the The Undergraduate Page

Table of Contents

Written by: Anh Tran
Concept and editing by: Craig Satterfield
Webpage programming by Cathy Busch
First Edition, August 1993
© 1993
Department of Psychology
Oklahoma State University
Copies of this booklet are available to non-OSU students from the Undergraduate Advisor's office for $1.00. Just write to the address below.
The contents of these pages copyright 1998 by the Department of Psychology and Craig Satterfield. No part of these pages may be reproduced or used in any format without written permission from the Department of Psychology.

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