Everybody knows how hard it is to land a job directly out of college. And so, when that miracle does happen for us, we are tempted to throw our hands up and shout. But hold on a second there, sparky. It turns out that this might not be the only indicator of success. Underemployment refers not just to part-time workers, but also to those who are highly skilled but working in low-paying jobs. And those who are highly skilled but working in low-skill jobs. If you fall into these categories, it may affect your work life far into your future. Underemployment is a trap, or, better yet, a freakin’ parasite that could follow you around for a good portion of your life.
The dreaded underemployment
According to a report, approximately 43 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed. This is a problem. An analysis from BurningGlass.com of 4 million resumes shows that this initial underemployment can follow a person around like an evil ghost impacting their future job opportunities for years to come. It seems that grads who start off underemployed often remain so five or 10 years down the line. And, for women, the statistics may be even worse. The 43 percent of workers who were underemployed in their first job were five times as likely to be underemployed five years later as those who were not underemployed in their first job.
What can we do?
This cycle is nearly inescapable, especially in a climate where jobs that pay well can be oh, so difficult to secure. Following a study of undergraduates, at the 10-year mark, those who were underemployed mostly remained underemployed. In contrast, if you hold out for your first job (while perhaps turning down scant offers), facts show that this patience may prove to be worth it. These graduates who held out for a job in line with their credentials had a greater likelihood of secure valuable and full-time employment throughout their working lives.
Who is suffering the most?
Well, it seems that graduate degrees in areas such as mathematics, engineering and the physical sciences are least negatively affected by this underemployment trap. Law enforcement grads, parks and recreation, fitness studies, family sciences and psychology appear to have it the worst of all the underemployed workers.
Troublingly, women in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – seem to be especially vulnerable to underemployment (this, despite the fact that twice as many women go to college these days than men, as well as their higher graduation rates).
Recent graduates who are underemployed earn about $10,000 less than their fully employed counterparts. Over time, this disparity equals out to a major financial gap. The first job that we take out of college or graduate school should not be a choice made frivolously. Although, It may not seem to make sense to refuse a job, It’ll pay off in the long-run. Your first vocation is a big decision. it is a high-stakes one which graduates, their parents and educators should view accordingly.
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