OVERQUALIFIED graduates are struggling to find work because they have spent too much time at uni and not enough time getting work experience.
An increasing number of graduates are finding themselves stuck in limbo; they’re not experienced enough to get the job they studied to do but they’re too qualified to get admin roles in the companies they want to work for.
Recruitment firm Hays’ Quarterly Report shows a trend emerging where graduates are too qualified to get work.
“We receive a high volume of applications from candidates at the entry level who have achieved their Masters,” the report said.
“This creates huge competition for a limited number of roles, but also places the spotlight on… the importance of gaining practical experience before you become overqualified.”
‘Why are you applying for this job?’
Yuliana Lays, 23, finished studying public relations more than a year ago and has been struggling to find work in the industry ever since.
Ms Lays studied a Bachelor of Arts and a postgraduate degree in PR at Curtin University.
“[Companies] are saying ‘Oh we need experience even for a junior, junior role,’” she said.
“But if I go apply for an admin or reception role they say ‘Oh you’re overqualified, you have two degrees, why are you applying for this job?’”
Uni system ‘needs to shift’
Nicole Wakefield, human capital partner at Deloitte, said people should educate themselves throughout their career rather than push all their study into the beginning.
“The reality is [education] doesn’t pay off in your first job.”
Ms Wakefield said the whole education model needed to shift towards focussing on getting students internships and work placements.
“It’s been in place a long time, [the system of] just sticking them in front of lecturers, but is that actually making them ready to do the role?” she said.
“In most vocations what employers look for is technical competence, life experiencing and a certain level of work experience.”
Ms Wakefield said bachelor degrees teach people how to think, question and research.
“What they don’t teach is how to operate in a work environment, be that commercial or otherwise,” she said.
“I don’t think academia qualifies somebody to be capable in the workforce.”
Employers don’t rate degrees
Ryan Booker, 33, is studying his third degree in 10 years as he tries to get a job in marketing.
He is currently working full-time as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company while he does his MBA online through the University of South Australia.
He has also studied a Bachelor in Business majoring in marketing and economics and a Masters of Marketing at Swinburne University of Technology and has held various sales rep roles at other consumer goods companies.
“I mentioned to a lot of companies I’d like to progress into management or into marketing but I just can’t seem to do it,” Mr Booker said.
“It’s endless frustration because you’re studying these things and you want to progress but they just don’t recognise them.”
Do grads expect too much?
Nicole Wakefield said there was often a gap between what job-seekers think they’re capable of and what employers are looking for.
“They think ‘Hang on a minute, I’ve studied for 10 years I’ve got two degrees and a masters I should be in a leadership role and earning a six-figure salary,” she said.
Ms Wakefield said that if people were struggling to find work they needed to lower their expectation for their first role.
They should target an organisation with the type of culture and environment they would like to work in and take a role one step below where they think they should be, she said.
“If [they’re] good they’ll leapfrog ahead anyway.”
But Ryan Booker said in the last six months he has applied for a number of internal roles but has been pipped by people with more experience.
Mr Booker is wondering how he is going to get into management without having to accept a low-paid role as he is the father of two young girls.
“It would take for me to go back to a marketing coordinator role which is like $35,000 a year, then I’d be considered experienced,” he said.
“Because I’m younger I’m seen as someone who is demanding, who wants a pay rise and who wants to be boss.
“I’m not asking for a hundred million dollars a year I’m just looking to get involved.”
Internships aren’t enough
Yuliana Lays moved from Perth to Melbourne to chase opportunities in the PR industry.
She worked in a series of temp roles before moving to Sydney to do an internship at an international PR company, which she hoped would turn into a full-time role.
But when her three-month internship finished she was replaced with another intern, and is currently still in Sydney doing contracting and temp work through recruitment agencies.
“These companies need to understand internships alone are not enough, if you don’t open your door to us how are we going to get the experience you need?” Ms Lays said.
“I can never win.”