The Effects of Your First Job Choice


by Jesse Plunkett Posted on 1 year ago


Graduation forces hard decisions. You’ve spent countless nights studying in sacrifice to a higher purpose: developing your in-demand skillset. Ready to put your newly acquired skills to use, you begin a strategic application process. When the appropriate job offers don’t come in right away, and you need the income, it’s easy to take a “temporary” position.

This isn’t rare; 43% of college graduates take a job out of school that doesn’t require a college degree. Post-graduation underemployment may initially seem like a phase, but the data tells a scarier story.

After researching four million resumes, Strada Institute found two-thirds of those workers were still underemployed after five years. Compared to graduates who put their diploma to use right away, initially underemployed graduates were five times as likely to be underemployed in five years. At ten years post-graduation, 50% of initially underemployed graduates were still underemployed.

Initial underemployment acts as a sinkhole because most employers categorize applicants by recent work experience, not past education. The underemployed then become anchored to their low income while missing out on valuable experience and connections.

The data is a lesson in the necessity of approaching your job search with even more intentionality than you did learning your college curriculum; in fact, accepting the wrong job could mean never using your degree at all. If you find yourself initially underemployed, continue searching relentlessly before you find yourself joining the majority.

If you are a student or recent graduate, consider requesting testimonials from a few of your professors. You’ll be competing against other applicants who also have little work experience, making the insights of your professors compelling evidence that can set you apart. With a free SafeHire profile, you can land more interviews by applying as the most credible candidate. You can also gather validated testimonials from your internships and early employers, compounding your career trajectory.

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