How graduates can avoid underemployment

Nov 7, 2014

When qualified graduates are forced to settle for jobs that don’t need a degree or part-time work it is generally seen as underemployment and there has been a distinct rise in underemployment in recent years.

There is a new demographic emerging amongst young workers in the UK. Graduate employment figures are on the rise and a notable increase of students are finding work after university. However, data shows that 47% of recent graduates in 2013 worked in jobs that required no further education.

Full-time hours are also hard for graduates to find as they enter the job market for the first time.

Overqualified, underskilled

Many graduates find it difficult to avoid underemployment. The toughest challenge graduates face is proving to potential employers they have the practical skills and experience to fulfil a job in their field of studies. With so many graduates fighting for few positions, a degree alone isn’t enough to land the job.

Even as the economy slowly recovers, it will be the graduates with previous working experience who get their foot in the door. Likewise, students who have been busy making contacts throughout their studies will know the right people to find suitable positions and bag themselves an interview.

New opportunities for strong candidates

Things are certainly looking better for graduates as we approach 2015 as business owners regain faith in the British economy. Employment figures show that more graduates are filling positions and employers are more willing to take on young talent.

This is great news for the latest crop of graduates and students, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. While the government takes steps to ensure there are never twice as many doctors as the country needs, this kind of regulation doesn’t apply to other fields of study and so competition will continue to be fierce.

As talk of better employment rates reach young people, university applications rise and 2014 saw a record number of applications across the country. Graduates will have to be among the best candidates if they can turn their degrees into relevant employment, and students need to prepare themselves for a competitive job market.

How to avoid underemployment: work experience and networking

Something that won’t change as the economy and employment rates improve is that business owners want candidates with previous work experience. Employers want to see that graduates have the essential skills that can only be learnt in the workplace, and the initiative to go out there and get them.

The students who have made it in tough recent times have built a CV of work experience alongside their studies to showcase their skills and forward thinking, while good networking is priceless for graduates entering the job market.

Alongside a CV with an employment history, a collection of contacts means you can hear about job openings that aren’t publicised on the usual recruitment websites. Thousands of graduates visit the same sites every day and it’s difficult to stand out from an online crowd. Students need to dedicate time during their studies to build a contact list and relevant work experience. This is what it takes to get ahead in a competitive job market after graduation.

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