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VOL. 38 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 12, 2014

Grads shouldn’t settle for lower-level jobs

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When I talk with millennials who have recently graduated from college, one thing is clear: They’re struggling to figure out what exactly to do next.

A common theme is they’re taking jobs that would normally be considered beneath their skill level.

Many recent college grads are afraid to apply to higher level jobs. Perhaps there’s something in the job description that seems more than they can do. Maybe there’s one requirement they don’t meet.

In the end, these college graduates are submitting themselves for jobs that only require a high school diploma. This market seems to be more comfortable and less competitive. It’s faster and easier to find one of these jobs. There’s less pressure of failing and you can start working right away.

The problem is, when you do this, you’re really holding yourself back. When it comes time to look for your next job, you’re not going to have the experience you really need in order to get it. When you’re right out of college, a company will give you a break on experience.

Five years later, you should have some.

You’ll also stunt your pay growth by taking a job that pays too little. Your next salary increase will build on this one. If you are starting off much lower than you should be, your next job will be lower too.

A low salary has the potential to follow you around for years to come.

Unfortunately, many young people take these jobs because they want to get their “foot in the door,” so to speak. You have probably noticed in my previous columns that this is not an approach I support.

First, a company brings you in to do the job they hired you for. Your manager won’t be happy if your sights are set on another job right away.

Second, most companies have little incentive to promote internally because employees are changing jobs so frequently. You can’t count on being promoted and moving around – especially if you start off very low.

Even if you have a college degree that seems to be irrelevant to the working world, try to put yourself out there. Apply for jobs even if you don’t meet one hundred percent of the requirements.

Network with hiring managers and expand your professional circle.

Explain what is it you can do (rather than focusing on what you can’t) – and why you’d be a good fit.

When you’re coming right out of college, your degree matters less than your initiative. Show you are determined. Be confident. Arrive on time. And, whatever you do, don’t give up.

This approach may take longer to land a job in the short term, but in 10 years, you will be glad you did it. Searching for a job that truly uses everything you learned in college will take you farther faster.

Your career will grow, and so will your bank account.

Best of all, your college degree will become a door opener and not a doorstop.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job. She also hosts the Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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