Don’t take just “any” job.

There’s a fine line between being too picky or over-thinking things, and settling.  And according to economists from Duke University and the University of North Carolina, “settling” for the first job that comes your way out of college can set you up for less earnings down the road.

The economists based their findings off government data following Americans between ages 14 and 22 in 1979. They found most people were “overqualified” for their first jobs.

The impact? Wages that are 2.6 to 4.2 percent lower, over the next 10 years, than they would have been had these candidates given themselves a little more credit and taken a job more equal to their qualifications.

The sampling was of the general population, not specifically engineering, IT, accounting, or finance professionals. So the numbers may be different for STEM professionals, but the conclusion is likely the same.

The lesson here isn’t to hold out forever for the “perfect” job. It’s to not underestimate yourself, or perhaps more importantly, to look for a job that stretches you, challenges you, and makes you grow. And that you’ll be rewarded for those efforts for years to come.

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