Got multiple degrees? You’re probably overqualified


The new year is upon us and it promises young budding graduates the opportunity of real-life work experience, but is it that simple?

According to Kay Vittee, chief executive officer of Quest Staffing Solutions, university-goers should educate themselves while working rather than accumulating many degrees – and debt – in lieu of working experience.

“Graduates are struggling to find work because they have spent too much time and money at university and not enough time getting work experience,” said Vittee.

“The unfortunate reality is that there is such a thing as ‘too much’ when it comes to education – especially if experience is lacking.”

Job prospects for new graduates are the poorest in 30 years.

According to a 2014 Graduate Careers Australia Survey, only 68 per cent of graduates found full-time work within four months of graduating, a decrease from 82 per cent in 2000.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, 600 000 university graduates are unable to put into practice what they spent years learning. Employers who seek out graduates to fill positions are no longer only looking at degrees. Instead, they want applicants who have gained some practical industry experience, in other words, those individuals who will add transferrable skills to the company.

“You don’t need to immediately start working in the sector you plan to move into after graduation to gain experience. At this point, you just need to start gaining certain skills and any job can teach you effective communication skills, email etiquette, phone etiquette, time management and teamwork,” added Vittee.

“Following this, you need to know how to emphasise and highlight these skills properly on your CV and in interviews when you eventually start looking for a job in your specific field.”

However, those who have ‘too much education’ should not let it go to waste.

Vittee shared some tips for overqualified candidates:

  • Be open to anything: Always stay flexible and allow yourself to transform. It is okay to keep in mind what you studied, but allow yourself to adapt to new opportunities.
  • Seek advice: Ask around about possible opportunities and if you can help a company at no cost to gain experience, then do it. Also, email different companies and express your interest. Should any future placement opportunities arise, you will be on their list.
  • Be willing to learn: Doing a couple of different internships and part-time jobs will give you an idea of your strengths and capabilities when it comes to surviving in the workplace.
City Reporter

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