The latest jobs report is in, and the employment picture is still bleak, especially for those just emerging from college. More than two million college graduates are now unemployed and millions more are underemployed. According to a recent Wall Street Journal column, young graduates face the bleakest odds among all jobseekers, as their real unemployment rates hover near 17 percent.
As I explain in The Unemployed College Graduate's Survival Guide, young adults are unemployed at nearly double the rate of older Americans, and their incomes have declined much faster than the national average. A recent government report on "Unemployment Among Young Workers" shows the highest rate of unemployment ever recorded for this age group while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the jobless rate for younger workers with a college degree has more than doubled since the financial crisis began.
Graduates under the age of 25 are having particular difficulty finding steady, high quality work. About half of the workers in this age group are currently "underutilized," meaning they're either unemployed, or working part-time, below their capabilities, outside of the college labor market, such as in restaurant or retail work.
The dismal jobs report did provide one hopeful employment clue, however: temporary labor. According to the report, one third of the new jobs that managed to be added to the economy are considered "temp work." This is an option all unemployed college graduates should be pursuing, and the obvious place to start is with your local temporary agencies.
A temporary agency is a firm that supplies employers with qualified workers on an as-needed basis. Some well-known temporary agencies are Manpower, Kelly Services and Spherion. To locate more, simply go to the yellow pages or run a Google search of "temporary agencies" or "employment agencies" in your local area. Temporary agencies tend to be quite plentiful in major cities but even small towns and suburbs now have them. They can offer all sorts of work possibilities, and the only way to find out what they have to offer is to go and check it out.
Obviously, temporary work is not a lasting job solution -- unless you get hired on permanently, as 30 percent of the temporary employees placed by Manpower were last year. Temporary work can be like a paid internship, where an employer gets to try you out without making a long-term commitment. You also get to check out different employers and explore various types of workplaces, which can be eye-opening and can reveal your career passion. If you do a good job, it's likely that the employer will seek ways to try to keep you on and that you will be the first to get the nod when the economy finally rebounds.
Another reason to sign on with temp agencies is because they can provide access to opportunities to gain work experience in college-level positions in reputable firms. This is a great way to build the experience portion of a resume while supporting yourself and showing those in charge what you can do when given the chance.
Unemployed grads: take a break from mailing resumes and register with your local temporary agencies. Local businesses in sudden need of replacement help contact these agencies on short notice and you want to be sure that you are already in line when new work assignments appear.
Here's another tip: temp agencies can be great sources of information about which local firms are hiring and what types of skills are currently in high demand and short supply. If you are unclear about your career direction, or considering further training, pay very close attention to which fields are currently in such need of workers that companies will pay a premium to hire temp workers. You will learn more about the current economic market and may uncover a future lucrative career path.
Although temporary workers typically do not receive benefits, temp work can often lead toward better opportunities and is a respectable place to start your career path. Approach each temporary assignment as a job interview. If you impress your supervisor with your results on a temporary assignment, temp opportunities can often open doors that currently appear slammed tight.