Choosing between unemployment or underemployment 1

Choosing between unemployment or underemployment after graduating

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Aug 08 2022 05:05 PM

A year after he graduated, Mitch still hasn’t found a job. “It’s easy to blame it on the pandemic but I know others from my batch have found work so this is really tough for me,” he shares.

There have been a couple of offers, but Mitch turned them down because the pay was lower that he wanted and would barely cover his daily living expenses. Those jobs will also not make use of the skills that he trained for. “It seemed that my choices were only to stay unemployed, or to be underemployed. I thought I was making the right decision, but staying home month after month is making me doubt myself.”

Thanks to the support of his parents, Mitch can take his time and keep looking, but not his friend Nick who decided to say yes to the first job offer he received, and when it was not enough, signed up for another one.

“I call my first job BB1 and the other BB2, as in BB for Bread and Butter. BB1 lets me work from home and it is output-based so I am not tied to an 8 to 5 job. I get regular pay but it’s barely enough so I need BB2 which requires me to work an extra 8 hours three days of the week. I know at least 3 others from my class that are in the same situation,” explains Nick.

Mitch and Nick are not alone. In the latest Philippines Statistics Authority Labor Force Report, youth unemployment and underemployment rates are in the same range of nearly 12 percent as of June 2022. This is nearly double the country-wide employment and underemployment numbers, also both registering at 6 percent. 

If you’re facing the same choices as Mitch and Nick, what should you do? There is no one right answer for all, but consider these suggestions that will help you get both income and experience.

#1 Get employed to gain experience

Did you really think you will land your dream job after college? Most employers look for experienced professionals and those that hire fresh graduates will only offer entry-level salaries. Instead of just looking at the pay, consider the experience you will gain from working in that company. Would having a job in that company gain you entry to a better paying job in the future? If the answer is yes, then think hard before you say no.

#2 First jobs open doors

It’s not easy for an employer to hire someone with zero experience, and that’s why schools now encourage and even mandate internships. But having held a job will increase your hiring value, especially if that job is in the same industry as the company you are applying to. It’s even better if you are applying while still employed. Companies tend to find employed applicants as more stable than the ones who are looking for another work after resigning from their last work. 

#3 Learn to add up salary and benefits

Don’t make the mistake of just looking at the basic pay. Make sure to also check the benefits offered by the company you are applying to. From medical insurance to paid leaves to rice subsidies, all these add up and better if they are tax-free. Performance bonuses and 13th month pay also count towards your annual salary and just maybe, knowing how to do the right math will let you make the right decision.

#4 When one job is not enough

Nick found himself needing a second job to make ends meet. If you are in the same boat, there is no shame in that. However, try and make this a temporary situation. One job should be enough, and you need to find that one job that will pay you what you need, what you deserve and hopefully a little bit more. Good employers tend to frown on employees having a second job, as your well-being is tied to your productivity and quality of life. For the employers that don’t care, that’s usually a sign that they just need the work done, and anyone can fill in for you. 

#5 Looking for a career, not just a job

Mitch is not necessarily wrong in waiting, nor right in saying no to the job offers that came his way. He is trying to start a career, and his personal situation allowed him to turn down jobs. Given the choice, many may do the same. Nothing wrong with holding out for the right employer, but waiting too long may also be a black mark on your resume. Be flexible to make compromises, a skill that will help you survive working in any company.


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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.