“You’re going to have a heck of a hard time finding a job,” the former Labor Secretary wrote last week. “The job market you’re heading into is still bad. Fewer than half of the graduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking.”
He added, “it’s likely to pay peanuts. Last year’s young college graduates lucky enough to land jobs had an average hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. That’s about $35,000 a year — lower than the yearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the Great Recession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, adjusted for inflation.”
Like many others, he also says that the jobs graduates do get will be “bad” jobs. The New York Times observed, “at least 40 percent of the new private sector jobs fall into low-paying categories. People are finding work at bars and restaurants and in retail. By and large they’re not getting hired as teachers, librarians or road workers (better-paid, more secure positions).”
The first is that basically, everyone’s first job is a bad job. And the second is that bad jobs can be turned into good jobs.
First jobs pay less, require more and aren’t as glamorous as the positions people hold later in their careers. The reasons why are obvious — experience counts, tenure is rewarded and skills matter.
Newcomers to the workforce have less experience, haven’t been on the job for long, and haven’t spent the years developing their skills that older workers have.
Is it really that complicated? A new study by BusinessWeek seems to indicate it is.
“Apparently students still value work-life balance above all else when listing top characteristics of an ideal entry-level employer,” BusinessWeek reports. This worries employers, because the results “seem to play into the stereotype of Millennials/Gen Y as a rather entitled, spoiled group of young workers,” that magazine adds.
Second, bad jobs don’t have to stay that way.
MONEY magazine says that most people are dissatisfied with their working conditions, but they have the ability to change that.
“The antidote: Identify the responsibilities that are most important to your employer, and take concrete action each day on those, suggests psychologist Teresa Amabile, a director of research at Harvard Business School,” the magazine says. “To take charge of your advancement, identify skills you’d like to pick up, and propose projects that will help you develop those abilities…”
One key is to have a good attitude.
Success is earned. It’s the result of hard work, long hours, smiling through adversity, and — yes — enduring bad jobs.
In today’s economy, the alternative to a bad job isn’t likely to be a good job that will come along later. It’s far more likely to be no job at all.
Your best course, then, is to make the most of what you can get.