What If You’re Both Underqualified AND Overqualified?

The job market is tough. We all know it. We all hear about it on the news. Every. Single. Day. But, unemployment in general isn’t the major economic issue facing the job force in our country today.

No. Instead, we need to further investigate the underemployment rate, especially for that of college graduates. Recent college graduates are taking jobs outside of their field of expertise simply because it is a job. That is an example of underemployment. Not to mention, underemployment includes part-time jobs and companies that do not provide benefits to certain employees. To stay in their chosen field of study, college graduates are taking unpaid internships while balancing one or more part-time job to pay the bills.

I have never been one to be unemployed. I always manage to find a job, because I have held full-time positions since my first summer vacation in high school. I have extensive–if not ecclectic–experience in various fields. But, one thing is true, I’ve always managed to multi-task and make my pay checks work for me. I was paying my way through school, living in my first apartment in the city when the Great Recession hit in 2008. I was working at three part-time jobs, freelance writing, taking 18 credits in college & babysitting and assisting a professor at my school. It hurt, but I made it work.

Today, I’m facing a similar situation. I’m working three part-time jobs, going to grad school part-time & trying to break into my chosen field of work. I am strategically promoting myself on all social media outlets, updating my LinkedIn profile and writing a business-minded blog. I am doing everything right—but, something is still missing. I am still missing the mark and receiving rejection letters & e-mails from wonderful companies.

What am I doing wrong?

It may not be me. It is probably the state of the economy and the job market. The climate isn’t stable yet. The job market is 10 times more competitive and reaping 10% less in salary and wages than in pre-recession years. We’re fighting tooth-and-nail for positions we would’ve laughed at a decade ago. Oh, and education is creating a smoke-and-mirrors effect on resumes. Some employers expect a graduate degree, and other employees see MBA candidates as a dime-a-dozen today. It’s hard to decipher these employers prior to an interview, so it ultimately wastes a lot of time. But, to a point, these employers together are completely reflective of the assumption of education in America today. We’re in limbo today. Some think a graduate degree is required and isn’t that special, and others think a graduate degree is a seal of approval of the highest quality. America is of the same mind—College is the new high school and now everyone has a degree, but an MBA still is seen as difficult and a great accomplishment.

In the job market today, too much education can make you seem overqualified for a position. For example, I am an MBA candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. I am in my second year. And I have one marketing internship under my belt, equivalent to a little more than one semester. I am overqualified given the breadth of my education; however, I’m underqualified for certain positions I’d hope for this far into my education.

It’s a Cache 22. And many prospective employees are in the same boat Post-Recession Era. Perhaps my only way out of this mess is to invent the tactic to bridge this awkward stage in a graduate student’s career, and I can employ myself.

How many of you have a job, but still feel UNDERemployed? What’s your strategy of pushing the ceiling up a bit and moving up to your rightful seat?