We're Got an Early Onset Career Crisis: How to Cope


We're in the middle of an early onset career crisis! Some steps for battling the bleak market...

By Danielle Miller, GalTime.com

It looks like the job market is bleak for new college grads and young professionals. A new report says one out of two young college grads is either unemployed or underemployed in jobs that don't fully use their skills.

Many professionals who do have jobs are struggling to keep those positons. The uncertain job climate has led many recent college graduates and young professionals to question their career choices and objectives, bringing about a career crisis very early in their professional lives.

How is this new generation of young professionals supposed to combat the pitfalls of entering into such a competitive and aggressive job market soon, if not immediately, after graduation? After spending a significant amount of time and money on continuing education, what is the best defense against joblessness and the hopelessness that often accompanies it?

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According to Michelle D'Avolio and Nicholas Baldo of Massachusetts based North Suburban Life Coaching, "Many recent college graduates are experiencing frustration over working so hard in school only to graduate into a flat job market as well as confusion over which alternate job path(s) to take."

Women who have been in the workplace for a several years are experiencing career confusion as well.

"Women who are employed have also sought out coaching to deal with the accompanying stress brought on by increased workloads. As corporate buyouts and downsizings occur, employers are expecting their staff to pick up the workloads that laid off employees had in addition to their own workload. Those that remain employed fear for their jobs if they do not tow the new load," explain D'Avolio and Baldo.

They've also noticed several patterns over the past few years, involving self destructive feelings in women who are unemployed or unhappy in their jobs. These women habitually feel:

  • Trapped, ambivalent and pessimistic over whether to stay at a current job or seek other employment, given the limited job market
  • Fear and anxiety around pushing back when unrealistic workloads and deadlines are imposed upon them, which is leading to burnout on a very large scale
  • Weak and in a "child" role if they need to move back home
  • Bleakness about their future independence and financial responsibilities

In an economy where recent graduates can't count on jobs and young professionals don't feel secure or fulfilled in the jobs they currently occupy, the only defense seems to be further education.

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D'Avolio and Baldo have noticed that many women who are considering going back to school after having recently graduated do so as a direct result of unemployment or lack of job security. "Many sectors of the economy, that historically have presented employment opportunities in the past, have recently diminished. [Recent college graduates] are considering going back to school to better position themselves for limited job opportunities and more competition."

However, the life coaches advise against making decisions based on work-related fear and anxiety. "[Women in their twenties and thirties] may be better served by taking a step back and discovering who they are and what they truly want," D'Avolio and Baldo explain.

How to Cope

They promote taking time out for self-discovery. "Improving one's self-concept and self-confidence puts [women in this age range] at a huge advantage in such a competitive job market. Defining themselves instead of letting others define who they are, discovering what they "want to" do vs. what they were taught they "ought to" do, exploring what will truly make them happy, what roles and mindsets block/serve them may lead to better self care. A life coach can assist them to do some life design work. This process may also bring clarity to other career opportunities that may have been hidden by a too narrow focus."

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.