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44 percent of college graduates aged 22 to 27 are “under-employed,” or working in jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Don’t underestimate young waiters and waitresses. Chances are good they have the education to not only do their job well, but to manage the place.

A Federal Reserve Bank of New York study issued this year found that in 2012, 44 percent of college graduates aged 22 to 27 were “under-employed,” or working in jobs that don’t require a college degree.

With new job formations trending up, some of those educated clerks will be finding better opportunities and more newly minted graduates will start in degreed positions, says Chris Collins, director of the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell University.

Under-employment is less of a problem for those with concentrations in science, engineering and other in-demand fields, says Collins.

“A lot of employers don’t see the connection between a liberal arts degree and the specific requirements they have for job [openings],” Collins says.

So how can that 25-year-old clerk convince her boss that she’s competent in more than English literature?

Volunteer to take on extra assignments, suggests Collins. “People who show leadership are the ones who get noticed,” he says.

Collins also suggests getting educational credentials in subjects that are in demand.

Claire Tauriello, career director for Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD, agrees that a “can-do attitude that matches the need of the supervisor and the organization can open doors.”

But, “if they can’t find those opportunities in the workplace,” Tauriello adds, “candidates should be volunteering with organizations in their skill set. Marketing this experience on a resume and a cover letter is crucial to finding the change the candidate desires.”

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