Underemployment is a growing problem, especially among recent college graduates. We’ve seen that nearly 30 percent of Gen Y has had to move home with their parents after graduating due to financial hardship. How can underemployed workers set themselves apart and get good jobs?
Gina Bremer, Data Analyst, PayScale: Our latest study is on underemployment where we’re looking at the underemployed workforce. We look at what they studied in school. We look at the percentage of workers who are underemployed by demographic – by age, by generation and also by job.
Josh Jarrett, Chief Learning Officer, Koru: So, underemployment is on the rise. The data actually bears that out. If you look at the Federal Reserve data, underemployment rate is now 44 percent. Just over a decade ago, it was only 33 percent so we’ve seen a significant increase. It always takes a little bit of time for the labor market to shake out, but we’re seeing it take longer and longer. And now over half of all recent graduates are either underemployed or unemployed well into their 20s. The job market for recent graduates is a tough one. What we’ve seen since the mid-1980s, in fact, is what employers expect from early career hires – from entry-level hires – has just been going up and up. That’s driven by technology, globalization. As the knowledge economy has really taken off, the simple routinized work has been replaced, and we expect greater thinking and expertise.
Nate Castle, Underemployed College Graduate (Ride Share Driver, Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing): I mean underemployment is tough because I’m not doing the work that I want to be doing, that I feel like is my life’s purpose, but at the same time, it’s very stress-free. I mean I can sit around and make the money at a low-stress job and not have higher-end goals in mind. But, ultimately, like I want to be doing the work that I was trained to do and that I feel like I’d be most valuable doing, because that would give me the most purpose and most meaning in life.
Gina (PayScale): While the majority of workers who feel underemployed give the reason that they aren’t being paid what they’re worth, there is still nearly a fifth of survey respondents who feel they’re underemployed because they aren’t using their education or training or because they’re working part time and they’re seeking full time work.
Nate (Underemployed College Grad): When I left college, I was missing two things. One was direction. I did not know what my options were for marketing and sales coming out of it. I didn’t know what the different jobs looked like and what the different types of companies were gonna be and what those…how those jobs differed in the different companies. And then, the second was a lack of hard skills.
Josh (Koru): It’s not enough to be well rounded and then get a job. And marketing…it used to be a lot like Mad Men. You could sit around and, you know, drink martinis and dream up what to put on billboards. But, we’re not seeing that anymore. If you want an entry-level job in Marketing, you need to know Google Analytics, have run, you know, campaigns and have done A/B testing, know what Marketo is and have used that, maybe Salesforce.com. You need…those are entry-level skills and expectations that people have, so that bar is just getting higher and higher, and it’s almost impossible for traditional higher education to keep up. We really think this is an all hands on deck moment. We think that there are significant issues that young people are facing, and it’s hurting the economy because we have folks who are not being active contributors. We also have close to 4 to 5 million open jobs in the economy right now, and so, we’re all suffering because of this. So, we think that employers need to do more to help reach out and build those on-ramps. Colleges and universities need to do more to provide applied, practical training experiences. And, the reality is we need additional players who come and be part of this solution.
Gina (PayScale): The economy is still in recovery. Some job types and industries are in higher demand than others. Employers are less likely to offer on-the-job training and are expecting employees to come in knowing everything on day one. Ultimately, it’s up to workers to identify the skills their dream job demands and learn them.
Josh (Koru): I’d give recent graduates two pieces of advice. I’d say one, build experiences. Until you get a job in the field you want to work in your projects, the things you volunteer and do, the things you do in your free time are your experience. The second piece of advice I would say is build your network. People hire people. Companies don’t hire people. This is how you’re gonna find the opportunity. If you send your resume into a resume screening, you know, submit it online, you have about a seven percent chance of ever hearing back – even just an acknowledgement that you’ve submitted it. If somebody introduces you to a company, you have an 80 percent chance of getting an interview.
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