Posted on January 24th, 2013 by Mike Freeman. | Back to blog posts.
Over the past 40 years, many things have changed. How much a movie ticket costs, a gallon of milk, and how much a car is. On the flip side, some things haven't changed quite as much. Like how much you're going to make at your first job.
I remember a conversation I had with my dad right after I graduated college. We were talking about my new job, and how much I was making. He kind of laughed quietly to himself and I asked him "what are you laughing at?" To which he responds "You're making $5,000 more a year than I was at my first job."At first, I was a little impressed, I was beating out dear old dad in my income. Then I realized, this was over 35 years ago. The $30,000 job he had 35 years prior was enough to buy a house, pay bills, afford a card and even afford gas for it. $30,000 in 2010 wasn't enough to afford most of that stuff!
It got us to thinking about how much prices have changed over the past 40 years. People are making more, granted. But how much more? So let's take a look at the numbers.
Where the average starting salary in the 70's was right around $10,000 it's doubled since then. Today the average starting salary is right around $20,000 based on our research.
You can see the burst in the 90's. It would've been nice to have graduated then. But a steady decline in entry level job salary is clearly seen over the past 13 years.
What are some of the driving factors in causing the average starting salary to go down over the past 20 years?
The tech bubble is a primary factor in this. As many of the higher paying jobs that were geared to the younger more "tech savvy" generation of graduates able to help add to the internet boom, obviously the number dropped dramatically.
Since then, we have been in an "employers market." I had a conversation with a friend of mine just today who said she was one of 63 people applying for a job. The employer has the opportunity to choose between 63 before having to make the choice of who they want to hire.
Certain industries are so full of candidates with similar educations, it often comes down to who is willing to work for the cheapest.
Combine a slowing economy with a employers market and you've got a recipe for salary failure.
As a student, you can manage to get out of this cattle call mentality. For starters, make yourself stand out. Pursue an education that goes beyond a standard business degree or marketing degree. Instead, look at how you're able to combine your education with another specific area of education. Business Management and Computer Sciences or Accounting and Construction Management. By combining your education with another area of focus, you make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Once you've graduated, going back to school for an alternative area of your education isn't realistic. So think about gaining on the job experience through internships or volunteering. By doing this, you're getting industry references, an understanding of how the industry works, and you actually know if it's what you want to do or not.
As an HR person reviews the 60+ resumes, seeing that you have worked in the field sets you apart. By coming in with more experience you can often times demand a higher price.
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