College Graduates: Are You Underpaid & Overqualified?
The average person will say that they are overworked and underpaid, especially if you work for a government agency. The current status of the economy doesn’t make the situation any better. So what are you supposed to do if you are stuck at a crappie job? What are you supposed to do if you are stuck at a job feeling underpaid and overqualified?
Recent college graduates are surprised when they find out that the job market is very competitive. Unfortunately, college doesn’t prepare college graduates for the real world. College graduates mistakenly think that they can quickly find a job after college, and they can find a lucrative job without experience. They don’t understand that they are competing in a very competitive job market. Most employers hire will hire recent graduates because you have a degree, but at a lower pay grade.
Before the recession, a person could easily get a job because there weren’t a lot of people looking for a job. Today, that is not true. An employer can receive as many as 200 applications for one position. In other words, employers have the option of hiring anyone they want. Employers will select an applicant with education and a significant amount of job experience.
Constant rejection can affect your confidence, negatively. When you start your job search, you have to understand that there hundreds of people looking for the same job. But they have job experience. Sometimes you have to accept a lower paying job.
Accepting a lower paying job is not the end of the world, and you are not a failure. The workforce is different. Some employers believe that experience is more important than education. Some employers will promote their friends or by seniority. The quicker you realize this; you will be able to make smarter choices about your career.
Use a negative situation to your advantage. When I first started my career, my annual salary was just over $22,000. I just finished my second bachelor’s degree. And, I expected more pay. I had to make a choice. I had to choose between working an hourly job without health insurance or work a regular 9-5 that included benefits and retirement. Accepting a crappie job allows you to gain experience and gives the opportunity to build and improve your job skills.
Don’t think you don’t have to make sacrifices. You have to make sacrifices in order to reach your goals. You may have to move in with your parents, change your spending habits, and eat Roman Noodles for couple of years. Don’t be ashamed because of what everyone else thinks. You have to do what you have to do get what you want from life.
Identify your allies, and keep your allies close. Everyone you work with is not going to like you. More importantly, always remember that people are watching you. People know about you and your qualifications. Therefore, be careful who talk to on your job. You are a threat and don’t know it.
You are a threat when you are one of the few employees on the job that don’t have a secondary education. But attitudes about the workforce are changing. Many states, now, require and want an educated workforce. Don’t get discouraged and upset when senior co-workers are picky about your work. They are using intimidation tactics to try to get you to quit your job. You are a threat to them.
If you have people on your job that are helping you and telling you how survive in a hostile work environment, listen to them. They can either help you move up in the organization or move into a higher paying position in another organization. But never forget the people who help you.
Learn every aspect of the job. You may feel that your job is meaningless. But don’t let your disappointment deter you from taking advantage of the situation. Learn every aspect of the job regardless if whether or not there is an opportunity for mobility.
The goal is to gain enough experience to benefit another agency. Some employers don’t realize that they are a good employee until he or she leaves. Don’t let ungrateful employers destroy your self-esteem and make you feel in hopeless. Some employers don’t know how to hire exceptionally well-qualified individuals. That is a part of life. Just never put yourself in a position in which you are not able to leave because you don’t have the appropriate skill set.
-Heather Browning, MBA, BA
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