Last month, 20/20 ran several career oriented items. Interestingly, one segment, which questioned the value of a college degree, was perfectly timed for me. I’ve been hearing from more and more clients and potential clients who have worked their way up to positions that now require a college degree as a basic qualification. Unfortunately, these professionals are now finding themselves laid off and in the unenviable position of being “unqualified” to apply for the jobs they have been doing for years!
How frustrating to have this extra barrier to winning a new job! Is it impossible to overcome? I don’t think so. With strong networking and the right connections to less traditional organizations, I think these job seekers can still succeed.
So, when job seekers wonder about the value of their undergraduate degrees, I always come out on the side of earning the degree, even though college doesn’t typically prepare you to actually find a job! The skills you do learn in formal education should serve you well as a job seeker, and those letters after your name will not hurt.
Of course, there are iconic figures who never earned a college degree (such as Steve Jobs), but historically, workers with college degrees have been shielded much more from the ups and downs in the market.
The national unemployment rate in January 2009 was 7.6 percent. Recently, for those with college degrees, unemployment was 3.7 percent â€” a reduction of nearly 50 percent. Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington predicts that the unemployment rate for college graduates will reach a record 4 or 5 percent in 2009. His comment to the AP: College-educated workers “are going to experience the kind of pain that has been common for people with less education.”
The New York Times suggests that the typical gap in unemployment favoring college graduates is narrowing a bit. Certainly, having a college degree, including those from online colleges and universities, is no guarantee against unemployment.
What all of this points to is that today’s economy doesn’t offer anyone a free pass to employment. No matter how highly “qualified” you are, knowing how to market your qualifications is much more crucial. Your ability to connect your skills and accomplishments to an organization’s needs will be just as important as actually having the basic qualifications.
It’s up to you to convey what you have to offer that is above and beyond your competition. When you do that well, you’ll be on your way to landing the job of your dreams!
Need a little help marketing yourself in today’s tough market? I can help! Contact me to discuss how I can help you succeed!
photo by adobemac