In a struggling economy, simply finding a job can be more of a priority than finding a job that requires you to use your college degree or maximize your full potential.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) September jobs report, the unemployment rate dipped to 7.8 percent; this is the first time the rate has fallen to less than eight percent in nearly four years, arguably boosting President Obama’s potential for re-election. Additionally, employers added 114,000 jobs and, overall, the total number of people who said that they were employed rose by 873,000.
But while the report seems to demonstrate a step in the right direction, it’s important to recognize the finer implications.
The number of involuntary part-time workers, or persons employed part-time for economic reasons, rose to 8.6 million in September from 8 million in August.
“The general good news is more jobs and a lower unemployment rate,” Michael Zweig, a professor of economics and founder and director of the Center for the Study of Working Class Life at Stony Brook, said. “But then you look at what kind of jobs we are adding. There’s a big increase in involuntary part time employment.”
Many who need full-time work, the report suggests, are now taking part-time positions to avoid long-term unemployment.
The report also showed that the number of people unemployed for less than five weeks declined by 302,000 to 2.5 million, but the number of long-term unemployed people, 4.8 million, changed little.
These two figures suggest another trend, according to Zweig,
“When there’s an increase in employment, the most recently unemployed are hired back first,” Zweig said. “The people who have been unemployed long-term have an especially hard time returning. So if someone loses a job, they need to get a different job as fast as they can.”
While not an ideal situation, Marianna Savoca, director of the career center at Stony Brook, said that those students who recently graduated or are coming up on graduation should try to make their best of part-time positions.
“Use this part-time gig to establish yourself as a good worker and establish yourself by taking it seriously,” Savoca said. “You could miss out on an opportunity to showcase your professionalism, and you never know how that could work out for you in the long-term.”
She also said that if you take a job in an industry that is not related to your career intention, it is important to dedicate a few hours per week to some volunteer work in the area you’re looking to enter.
“It’s a small but significant opportunity for these young professionals to get exposure,” Savoca said. “There are communities you can help serve that will add to your résumé and connect you to good people and build your network. It’s important to understand that a service activity could be a better return investment for them than searching for jobs on monster.com”
Ultimately, Savoca said the cliché that “it’s all about who you know and who knows you” is true.
To find such opportunities, Savoca said that both students and alumni of Stony Brook should look at ZebraNet, an online tool provided by the Career Center that has both job or volunteer listings and a database of employers.
Even if jobs are not posted under the listings, Savoca said it is key to become familiar with the employer directory. From there, students or recent graduates have access to more than 7,000 employers who post their information.
“It’s a tool to learn more about what companies are out there,” Savoca said. “Go through the directory, learn about the companies, go to their websites, see if they have volunteer opportunities or even positions that aren’t in the job listings.”
In September alone, 640 jobs were posted to ZebraNet. Among those, 216 were full-time, entry-level positions, 160 were full-time experienced, 112 were part-time and 130 were internships.