Stuck in a Dead End Job with a Degree? What To Do?

Have you ever felt that despite possessing a hard-earned degree, you’re stuck in a dead end job with a bachelor degree? Do you experience a recurring feeling of frustration, dissatisfaction, and lack of progression? Rest assured, you’re not alone. Many well-educated professionals find themselves caught in the mire of stagnation.

Drawing on our experience as career counselors, we’ll delve into practical steps you can take to transition from feeling stuck to seizing control of your professional journey. Together, let’s turn your career narrative from despair to optimism, and from stagnation to growth.

Empowering Steps to Overcome Being “Stuck in a Dead End Job with a Degree”

Understanding Your Situation: The Phenomenon of Underemployment

Before we delve into strategies, it’s important to understand the dynamics behind the feeling of being “stuck in a dead end job with a degree”. The phenomenon of underemployment is a critical factor. Underemployment refers to a situation where an individual’s employment is insufficient in some way, such as working fewer hours than desired or having a job that doesn’t fully utilize one’s skills or education.

Underemployment is more prevalent than you might think. In 2018, a study by Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass Technologies reported that 43% of college graduates are underemployed in their first job out of college, and two-thirds remain underemployed after five years (1).

It’s a daunting statistic, but remember: you are not a statistic. You have the power to steer your career trajectory. Due to our practical knowledge, we know the tools to implement this change are within your reach.

Identifying the Problem: Assess Your Career Situation

Start by taking stock of your current situation. What aspects of your job make you feel it’s a dead end? Is it the lack of opportunities for promotion? Or perhaps it’s a dearth of challenges that make you feel unfulfilled? The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests conducting a self-assessment to evaluate your interests, aptitudes, and values (2). This exercise can provide you with valuable insights into why you may feel unsatisfied and what you might want in a more fulfilling career.

Exploring Your Options: Leverage Your Degree

One of the advantages of having a degree is the versatility it offers. A 2020 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted that the range of career opportunities associated with each type of degree is extensive (3). So if you feel stuck in a dead end job with a bachelor degree, remember that your degree is not confined to a narrow career path. There are numerous industries and roles where your qualifications and skills are valuable.

Use resources such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to explore various occupations and industries that align with your degree (4). Reach out to alumni networks or professional associations in your field for insights. This exploration can open up opportunities you may have overlooked.

Networking: Expanding Your Professional Connections

Never underestimate the power of networking. A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 70% of jobs are found through networking (5). Networking can expose you to opportunities that aren’t advertised publicly, provide you with mentors who can offer valuable advice, and allow you to build relationships that can enhance your career in the long run.

Make use of networking platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your desired field. Attend networking events, webinars, or workshops related to your industry. By doing so, you not only widen your professional network, but you also show initiative and enthusiasm, traits that are often noticed by potential employers.

Upskilling: Enhance Your Skills and Knowledge

In an ever-changing job market, continuous learning is key. Harvard Business Review reported that the rate at which job markets evolve is accelerating, and staying competitive often means updating and upgrading your skills (6).

Upskilling can be as simple as taking an online course or as comprehensive as pursuing a professional certification or a postgraduate degree. Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy are some of the platforms that offer free courses to boost your skills in various domains. Your current degree, coupled with additional skills, can make you more appealing to potential employers and open new doors.

Harnessing the Power of Positive Psychology

As a final note, embracing a positive mindset can make a significant difference. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s “broaden-and-build” theory suggests that positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources (7).

Consider adopting positive psychology practices, such as gratitude journaling or mindfulness meditation, to foster positivity and resilience. Remember, the power to change your professional journey lies within you.

Conclusion on Stuck in a Dead End Job with a Degree

Feeling stuck in a dead end job with a degree can be frustrating, but remember, it’s a situation, not a sentence. By assessing your career situation, leveraging your degree, expanding your network, enhancing your skills, and fostering a positive mindset, you can navigate your way out of the rut and toward a fulfilling career path. It requires patience, effort, and perseverance, but the outcome is undoubtedly rewarding.


  1. Strada Institute for the Future of Work, Burning Glass Technologies. “Underemployment Persists Throughout College Graduates’ Careers.” (2018)
  2. American Psychological Association. “APA Dictionary of Psychology, Self-Assessment.”
  3. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “The Labor Market for Recent College Graduates.” (2020)
  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook.”
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Job Search Techniques and Their Success Rates.” (2011)
  6. Harvard Business Review. “Lifelong Learning is Good for Your Health, Your Wallet, and Your Social Life.” (2017)
  7. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). “The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.” American Psychologist.
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Editorial Team
Editorial Team

Our editorial team is composed of a diverse dedicated professionals, including psychologists, career counselors, human resources professional, and career coaches, all of whom possess a wealth of experience and knowledge in their respective fields. We are committed to delivering the most relevant and up-to-date content to help you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of today’s workplace. You can read more about us in "About Us"

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