Young workers

Grads: A lame job is better than no job

April 18, 2012: 11:17 AM ET

As job offers become more frequent for recent grads, it's raising a question for the mortarboard set: should you take a sub-optimal offer, or hold out for something better?

By Laura Vanderkam, contributor

FORTUNE -- With the economy slowly emerging from the muck, the job market is looking up for recent grads. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the median starting salary for class of 2012 grads is up 4.5% (to $42,569) from that of the class of 2011.

As job offers become more frequent, it's raising a question for the mortarboard set: should you take a sub-optimal offer, or hold out for something better?

Holding out has become more of a possibility for today's younger set than those in previous generations. With the average age of first marriage up in the late 20s, few new grads have families to support. During the Great Recession, moving back home with mom and dad lost much of the stigma it previously had and, thanks to health care reform, young adults can stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26 -- reducing the pressure to find full-time employment with benefits. Many graduates have student loans, but with income-based repayment schemes in place for federal loans, young people with no income may be able to avoid steep payments for a while.

MORE: The real revolution in the Middle East: Women in business

So should you wait and keep looking for the perfect job? The advice from career experts boils down to one word: No.

"You should definitely start working as soon as possible," says Alexandra Levit, author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can't Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success. Here are a few reasons. More

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