Underemployment hits different when you’re well-educated yet underemployed.
You spent years earning that college degree. Just to find yourself in jobs that don’t utilize your education or full potential. It can be frustrating.
But the good news is that underemployment doesn’t have to be a life sentence.
Let’s talk about what it means to be underemployed and how to overcome it.
What is Underemployment?
Underemployment is when there’s a mismatch between your current job and your skillsets, education, or availability to work.
There are many types of underemployment. Being underemployed can look like doing work that doesn’t maximize your potential.
Working in jobs that don’t require a college degree when you have one.
Being overqualified and underpaid. And working part-time when you desire full-time employment.
The Underemployment Rate
The underemployment rate for recent college graduates is higher than that of the general population.
About 41% of recent college graduates — and 33.8% of all college graduates are underemployed, working in jobs that don’t require a college degree, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Women are more likely to be underemployed than men, according to a report by Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass Technologies.
47% of female college graduates are initially underemployed, compared to 37% of male graduates. Because that first job is so important, the cycle of underemployment can be hard to break.
Here are some examples of underemployment. A person with a marketing degree working as an uber driver as their main source of income is considered to be underemployed.
Another example is someone with a culinary arts degree working as a cashier at a fast-food restaurant.
Is Overeducation a problem?
The short answer is no. Overeducation alone isn’t a problem. You can never be overeducated. The problem is when you rely too much on your education to advance your career.
What to do if you are Underemployed
1. Understand Your Worth
When it comes to your career, ignorance is not bliss. The first step to beating chronic underemployment is understanding your worth.
Evaluate where you are in your career, compared to where you should be.
Here are some steps you can take to research your worth:
- Research the job titles and salaries that someone with your education and skills should have
- Analyze job postings to understand what employers are looking for compared to the skills you have
- Do informational interviews with people in your field
2. Rebrand Yourself
Sometimes you’ll attract opportunities based on how you’re marketing yourself. For example, if your resume is full of words like “supported,” “helped,” and “assisted.”
You’ll likely attract more support roles. If your goal is to overcome underemployment and land a leadership role. You’ll need a career makeover!
There are many ways to go about rebranding yourself. Here are some of them.
How to Rebrand Yourself:
- Update the job titles on your resume to match the experience you want vs the experience you have.
- Update your LinkedIn profile to match the level you aspire to be at
- Work on building your confidence with positive affirmations and regular self-care
- Carry yourself as you’ve already beat underemployment
3. Negotiate a promotion at your current company
If you’re at a company you love. Don’t be so quick to look outside your organization for your next role.
Start by negotiating a promotion at your current employer. Your request for a promotion should be strategic, well-timed, and supported by data.
So you’ll want to create a game plan before presenting your request. Check out our article on how to get promoted for tips to map out your game plan!
4. Join a Leadership Rotational Program
Leadership development and rotational programs offer you training across business areas within a company.
Companies use these types of programs to hire interns or post-graduates and train them through rotational programs or structured learning programs.
The goal is to recruit and develop leaders for their organization. These programs are a great way to beat underemployment by having a clear path to leadership roles.
5. Upgrade your Network
If you’re underemployed and everyone around you is too. It’s a sign that it’s time to upgrade your network.
The type of people you’ll need to have in your network to beat underemployment are the ones that can expose you to the “hidden job market.”
The hidden job market is a term that describes job opportunities that aren’t publically listed on job boards or advertised through recruiters.
Having a high-value network can help you tap into the hidden job market.
To get started, download our step-by-step Networking Guide!
6. Consider a Career Switch
Perhaps there aren’t many opportunities for growth in your industry. If that’s the case, consider switching careers.
A career change can create new opportunities for you to overcome underemployment.
First, think of all the skills you’ve gained in your current field. Now ask yourself, what other careers could this experience transfer to?
Make a list of them. Then research the requirements to break into that space at the level you deserve.
To get started, download our Career Change Checklist after subscribing!
7. Create an opportunity
If you’re struggling to land the opportunities you deserve. Create one!
Take being underemployed as a sign that there’s something better for you.
There are many ways to put your talents to use without a job. You can offer your expertise as a freelancer, contractor, or consultant.
As you gain momentum, you can launch your own business or agency.
Don’t let your talents go to waste. There’s someone out there searching for exactly what you have to offer. And willing to pay you for it!
Dealing with Being Underemployed
Your current situation isn’t your final destination. Feeling overeducated yet underemployed doesn’t have to be a life sentence.
Following these steps will get you one step closer to breaking the cycle of underemployment.
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Over to You
How are you breaking the cycle of underemployment after college? Let us know in the comments section on social @netwerkmovement.
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