The Curse of Underemployment: Why Your First Job Should Be Aspirational

The biggest fear of many recent college grads is unemployment. And it makes sense: the prospect of not having a job is terrifying. But given the unemployment rates of college graduates—currently 1.9%—your fears aren't likely to become a reality.

But there's another statistic that you should keep your eye on: 34% of college graduates are underemployed.

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Underemployment means either working a job where you're not utilizing your skills or education, or having a part-time job—not by choice. Working a part-time gig or doing something you're overqualified has implications for job enjoyment, confidence, and, of course, salary. But what you may not realize is that is also has long-term effects on your career path.

A recent study shows that if you're underemployed in your first job after college, you're five times as likely to still be underemployed five years later. And the cycle continues from there. So while it's better to be underemployed than unemployed for a long period of time, you might want to think twice before taking the first job offer that comes your way.

Our advice: be sure you know your value and be aspirational in your first job, since that decision will follow you throughout your career.

Bob Carlton