From College Graduate to Corner Office?

College Graduate to Corner Office? Not so fast…


We all know that bright, full of potential recent college graduate that just worked like a dog to finish their BA, composed an impressive resume, interviewed like a champ and finally landed the job of their dreams…Receptionist.  A four year degree to answer phones and file paperwork? So much for holding out for a management position. In fact, this is becoming an all-too familiar scenario for many college graduates.

According to Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job ads for more than 20,000 online sources, more and more jobs that historically didn’t require a college degree – positions like file clerks, cargo agents, and claim adjusters – are now requiring a college degree. Even in reception positions – there is little to no difference in skill requirements between job ads requiring a degree and those that do not. But employers still overwhelmingly prefer college graduates. This is a phenomenon that Economists call “degree inflation” and it can effectively shut out many workers with only a high school degree as well as college dropouts.

This obvious trend toward higher education shows no sign of stopping. Job Projection Research conducted at Georgetown University in 2010 predicted that by 2018, 60% of job openings will require a college degree. The good news is that, in general, college graduates may earn more than twice as much as those without a high school degree. Unfortunately, the majority of people currently in the workforce still don’t have a BA. This is troubling considering that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs requiring a Master’s degree are expected to grow faster, whole those requiring only a high school degree will experience the slowest growth overall.

What does this mean for our recent college graduates turned receptionist? Chances are, as the economy begins to bounce back, businesses will feel the urgency to fill positions and begin promoting from within. That will give those entry-level graduates a chance to move up from the positions they may have landed in that don’t use the skills they’ve gotten themselves in debt to acquire, allow them to take on more responsibility, earn more money and move up the corporate ladder – albeit slower than they’d imagined.