Underemployment: Is it an option? 

Underemployment is a consideration for most jobseekers. Sometimes, it is a necessity.

If you are underemployed, you may first think, “This isn’t so bad.” The job might seem easy compared to what you used to do. The hours might be less and the tasks might be less complicated. You might feel a sense of superiority over your coworkers thinking you are better than this job and will eventually be back where you belong leaving these underemployment coworkers behind you.

If, however, your underemployment continues longer than you expect it to, being underemployed can become depressing. There may be a feeling that you are not living up to your potential, that you are loosing ground in your career and your self worth may plummet.

The fact that you have to settle for a job that is not your first choice can become frustrating and make you feel stuck. Finally, a doubt might creep in that you in fact belong in this position and your prior position was perhaps a fluke or a stroke of luck. The longer you stay in the position of being underemployed the longer you will have to contend with these issues.

Are you underemployed? There are two goals that every under employee should have:

  1. Find a job that better suits your interests and talents.
    • Goal number one is important to maintain your focus on your job search and not become complacent in your current position. Set a goal to find and apply for at least one to three positions every week.
  2. Manage your negative feelings while you continue to be an under employee.
    • Maintaining the job search will help maintain a healthy attitude because you are making efforts towards your goal.
    • Further, it may serve you to remember that being uncomfortable in this position is a good thing because it will motivate you to make a change.
    • Finally, be compassionate to yourself. Beating yourself up for being in the position you are in will not accomplish your goal to move forward. In fact it will keep you from moving forward because it will deplete your energy.

Remember that if you are underemployed your experience, education, and training qualify you for a job that is aligned with your background. It is right for you to strive for a job that is a good fit. But again, this should always come from a place of self-compassion. Self-condemnation hurts you and those around you. You deserve to be supported – especially from yourself.

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