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Overqualified & Unemployed: A Graduate Nurse's Dilemma

Updated on September 10, 2012

Climbing the Ladder of Knowledge & Grasping onto the Chute of Bankruptcy

When I quit my RN (registered nurse) position to enter graduate school full-time so I could obtain my Masters of Science in Nursing (and become a Nurse Practitioner) in a single year, I failed to realize how difficult it is to compete in the advanced-degree job market. Despite my six years of RN experience and 12 years working in the healthcare field, most job openings require two or more years of experience as a NP and absolutely refuse new graduates. However, I've realized I am not alone in my post-graduate experience of joblessness and rather joined the other 8.3% or 12.8 million unemployed Americans in the same rut. Surprisingly, from my research on the 2010 U.S. Census, overall unemployment rates have improved by 2 million or 1.3% of the population. Despite this, millions of people are still without jobs in a country where Starbucks spring up on every corner while "mom & pop" shops lose customers, run out of savings, and eventually shut their doors to people who once appreciated originality and a familiar face. It's not just the mom & pop owners and new graduates who face this daunting dilemma of unemployment, it is truly a nationwide epidemic affecting every walk of life.

Jobs do Exist: Overqualified Applicants Need Not Apply

Despite the wretched unemployment rate, there are hundreds of job openings every day- just none that will accept someone with overqualified credentials. One can scan Craigslist for hundreds of new job openings on a daily basis; from hostess, server, food prep, tech-savvy Excel master, sales rep, sign-holder, nanny, and the list goes on. But, what do they all demand? Experience in the field and a promise to be a life-long (okay, at least a good year) employee. One look at a resume filled with extensive experience in a very different field of interest topped with a Master's degree and they'll quickly shove you aside, knowing that you'll quickly leave their minimum-wage job to be hired onto your dream career at a second's chance. And who can blame them? No one wants to spend time and money to train a new (albeit very qualified and educated) employee just to see them walk away in a matter of months. So here I am, along with the other 12.8 million Americans, jobless and desperate to find anything to just make ends meet.

Who are the Unemployed? U.S. 2010 Census

Total Unemployed
14.8 Million (9.6% of population)
8.6 million
6.2 million
20-24 years old
25-34 years old
35-44 years old
45-54 years old
55-64 years old
65+ years old

Duration & Percentage of Unemployment Rates

Unemployed but not Unmotivated

One thing I must say about being unemployed is that it's far too easy to get discouraged than it is to stay motivated. After multiple rejections from far too simple jobs can leave one questioning their own self-worth. However, I've used all of this spare time to continue to apply for dream careers as well as temporary quick-money gigs (the adventures of babysitting will surely be a future blog), explore my creative writing through this wondrous site called Hubpages, discover nearby mountain biking trails, enjoy quiet midday walks with my golden retriever while everyone else is at work, and I've tried my hand at economically-priced but healthy recipes (it's a little more tricky than one might think). And so I wait, along with the rest of the 12.8 Americans, hoping for a chance at a dream career and hopefully one in my field. In the meantime I'll continue to walk, bike, cook, and write about my progress to reach that dream of mine.

Are you one of the 12.8 Million?

What is the longest duration of time you have been unemployed in the last year?

See results


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    • Boisegal profile image

      Holly 5 years ago from Boise, ID

      I went back to finish school for a teaching degree, and no school districts in the area will look at your application without experience. There are simply too many teachers and not enough openings. Now I have $20k in student loans!

    • Joe Cook profile image

      Real Life Stories 5 years ago from UK

      Fully sympathise with you - I've been there, on and off for a long time. Best of luck, and keep on plodding x

    • JanTutor profile image

      Jan Thompson 5 years ago from London, England

      I hope so too!

    • Brownie83 profile image

      Kelly (Brown) Wagner 5 years ago from Arvada, Colorado

      Thank you for such an informative post about this economical trend that has obviously affected more than the citizens of the U.S. I hope one day I will be able to report that obtaining a Master's degree in return for my large debt is actually worth it.

    • JanTutor profile image

      Jan Thompson 5 years ago from London, England

      Brownie, you've penned a well researched Hub and you've highlighted a very worrying trend. In the UK nearly six unemployed people are chasing every vacancy and economists warn that the jobless total, which has hit 2.67 million, will climb even higher.

      According to the Confederation of Business Industry, anti-business 'enemies' in the government are harming Britain's economic recovery. The austerity measures bought in by the current coalition government have seen banks reign in the amount of loans they approve and reduce (substantially) overdraft limits. Businesses are being crucified and 60 small business are closing every day.

      Despite their qualifications many graduates are having to take unskilled jobs. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 25.9 per cent of 16-year-olds who left school with as little as one GCSE at grade C or above are currently unemployed. The situation is almost identical for a 21-year-old graduate. Despite having A-levels and a degree, 24.8 per cent are unemployed.

      The figures will fuel concerns among parents and their children about whether a degree is worthwhile at a time when students face the prospect of leaving university with debts of up to £50,000.

      They also raise serious doubts about Labour’s famous pledge to have 50 per cent of school leavers going on to university.

      Tanya de Grunwald, founder of the careers website Graduate Fog, said she regularly hears from graduates who are in work but have had to return to their old holiday jobs.

      A combination of too many students, and an economy in recession has created a toxic combination for any new graduate seeking paid employment.

      I sincerely wish you well with your career plans. Keep us updated.