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From Undergrad to Underemployed – What’s Next for Employers and Candidates

The graduate employment rate has been dropping consistently over the decade. Graduates are facing a tough job market after graduating from school. Some graduates have debt, some are fortunate to have had help with paying for school or have worked throughout their degree. There are different majors and minors. What everyone has in common when they are graduating from school is that they are looking for work.

graduate employment rate

Job searches typically begin in the 4th year when employers come to campus and meet with prospective candidates. Currently in Canada there are 1.2 million students enrolled in full or part-time degree programs… that is a lot of competition for jobs. This certainly has not helped the graduate employment rate. No wonder the issues of unpaid internships has become such a big deal – grads will do anything to gain experience and a relationship with an employer!

The reality is, there are many graduates out there working jobs that their undergrad degree would say they are overqualified for. In the United States the graduate employment rate has been dropping since 2001. In Canada it is the same story, 40% of men and women with undergraduate degrees find themselves in a job that required a college-level education or less.

Someone had to have seen this coming with the sheer number of youth enrolling in University programs. This is simple economics supply and demand. Unfortunately for the youth of this generation the demand is just not there in many sectors.

There are however sectors of the job market where graduates are finding jobs that require their level of education. It was found that graduates with degrees that provide technical training, such as engineering or math and computers, or majors that are geared toward growing parts of the economy, such as education and health, tend to do relatively well compared with their non-technical degree counterparts.

This isn’t to say everyone should be running to get a degree in engineering, but what do you do if you are struggling to find a job that is relevant to your education? I believe this responsibility needs to be shared by both the employer and the candidate. If this responsibility is shared then we can start to see a positive shift in the graduate employment rate.


  1. Start looking past the resume and interview. With the resume and interview you are only gaining a small amount of information about your candidate. Look for ways to engage with candidates in settings outside of the interview.
  2. Work sampling. Observe how they interact with their peers, learn how they think, how do they respond to different situations. This is where you will learn the most about graduates.


  1. Begin to brainstorm people you know in market where you are searching… think of anybody; past employers, parents friends, summer camp counsellors and begin to engage with them. See if they know people you can be talking to.
  2. Research companies you would like to work at or you are generally interested in learning about. Find out who the people in that company are that you can introduce yourself to and begin a relationship with them.
  3. Learn how to engage with these people via conversations on the phone, over coffee, or over email. Unless your resume is really impressive they may never even read it. Think of ways to get their attention by showing them you have initiative.
From Undergrad to Underemployed – What’s Next for Employers and Candidates
Kyle Bissett

By Kyle Bissett Visit author's website

Kyle is the co-founder of Grad Potential, a division of Hire Results Ltd that is dedicated to assisting organizations in hiring graduates true potential. Kyle is a graduate of Guelph University. Before joining Hire Results Ltd Kyle worked with Young Life Canada.