Pomp and Circumstance

It’s graduation season and the job market certainly looks challenging for the college class of 2012. In fact, our labor market, still limping along, unable to fully recover from the recession, already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that do not utilize their college degrees and knowledge. Think about how often you meet a young job seeker in a restaurant or behind a coffee counter.

Having half of our young college graduates under- or unemployed certainly sounds alarming, particularly for parents who may have invested close to a quarter million dollars in their child’s education. However, dig a little deeper into the story and you’ll discover that in 2000, 41 percent of new college grads were either under- or unemployed. So, the dot-com bubble and the recession have combined to swallow just about 10% of the jobs generally held by young college graduates. Spun that way, job-hunting looks a little brighter for today’s graduates, right?

Yes, job prospects for graduates with bachelor’s degrees are at their lowest level in more than a decade. However, studies continue to show that, on average, college graduates earn more money over their working careers than those who did not attend college. And, today, many parents are helping their young graduates to get that all important first job by welcoming them back home to conduct their job searches.

Interestingly, I recently read that, according to government projections released in March, that only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher. What are these jobs? Teachers, college professors and accountants. I find it ironic that two of these professions are in the education field. That is, can we really believe positions for college professors will increase even as a college degree becomes less valuable in the job market? You have to wonder if the folks spewing forth these statistics ever stop to consider if they make sense. That notion informs my advice to college graduates – You are much more than a number. As you meet with potential employers, look for work you are passionate about so you can make your contribution.

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