Being underemployed means your that while yes you’re working, you’re in a position that isn’t what you are qualified to do based on your education and experience. It’s likely that you are also underpaid, as you’re working in a job quite possibly that is in another field and at an entry-level salary, because you’re not entirely qualified in that second field for a more senior position.

Still, it’s a job. Needing money to stay afloat and pay some bills, you’ve taken this job on a short-term basis. The good thing about the job is that it keeps you busy and there’s less time to sit alone at home brooding over your lack of success. It’s also good for the self-esteem in that an employer picked you up and hired you so your skills are validated. The people you meet on a daily basis don’t know about your situation and let’s face it, not many of them care quite frankly. Everybody has a story and while you’ve got yours, they’ve got theirs. That’s just the fact of the matter.

Now on the downside, while you’ve got some immediate income, the income itself isn’t sustainable; well not for the lifestyle you had or the lifestyle you’re aiming for. You’re living tight, paying the bills to get by but there’s not much of a social life with such a small reserve of what’s referred to as discretionary spending. Another downside is the work itself; this isn’t what you went to school for in all probability.

Now while you’ve taken on this job for the positives; including filling up a broadening gap on your resume had you not taken the job, you’re worried about the possibility of getting lulled into this new job and not having the time or energy to work hard at getting back into the field you went to school for. You don’t want to be the poster child for the person with two University degrees who is now flipping burgers for a living.

Okay so what to do. Well first of all, the decision to take a job sometimes referred to as a survival job or transition job is or was, yours alone to make. As there are pros and cons, you have to take the responsibility and accountability for having made the decision to accept this job based solely on your own unique circumstances.

I’ve known some career seekers who actually switched to job seekers and it worked out wonderfully. You see an entry-level job that requires less qualifications than the career position you’ve been going for over a long period can actually be a huge positive. There’s much less stress for example dressing a submarine sandwich or fitting someone for a new pair of shoes than there is scratching your way alone in the financial sector while managing an investment portfolio for a firms clients. That drop in stress could be just what the doctor ordered, and this can give your brain a chance to turn down the constant need to be checking stock markets and interest rates.

Now before anyone jumps on entry-level service industry jobs as being more than I’m pointing them out to be, let me say that learning the ropes is just as critically important to the owners of these franchises and businesses. I used to be a shoe and clothing salesperson; but selling shoes and clothes was much less stressful than making decisions as a Social Services Caseworker that could result in someone not getting the funds they expected and being out on the street – literally.

If you are underemployed, you’ve got to find for yourself that fine line between taking a transition or survival job just long enough to ground yourself and not too long so it becomes your new normal. You want to give the employer who hired you a return on their investment in you, both in terms of time on their payroll and interest and commitment to their success. At the same time, you do want to focus some of your energy and time to getting on with your career; and at the moment you’re not in the right employment sector.

Get in a routine and commit to it. That could mean looking for work every morning until your afternoon shift, or it could mean committing to 3 hours of job search activity at some point in your day. Whatever you choose, a regular commitment will keep you from missing the perfect opportunity. Don’t think I mean just looking at want ads either. Today there’s online learning, night school, webinars, social media platforms that promote discussion and networking. There’s a lot you could do beyond just looking for job openings.

One of the most useful things you could be doing right now is initiating and nurturing new relationships with people you don’t know at the moment but who work for the company or companies you’d most like to target. Connecting with someone today and asking them for a job tomorrow isn’t going to work with most people. However, connecting with someone today and cultivating that relationship to the point where you seek out some assistance as a job opening appears will likely mean your contact is happier to pass on information to help you out.

Being underemployed but working has its pros and cons. It’s up to you and you alone to decide what’s right for you. Remember however that lyric of the Beatles that goes, “Get back to where you once belonged.”



Is It Possible To Be Afraid Of Success? Oh Yes!

Most people would easily concede that the fear of failing can hinder a person from even trying something where success isn’t guaranteed. What about the fear of succeeding however? Can a person really be afraid to do something because there is a chance they might actually be successful? Oh yes!

Suppose you are an unemployed person who in the early stages of a job search, stuck to your guns and looked for employment in your field. As time passes you start to consider other employment because your main goal – the job you really want – just hasn’t been advertised or you have not successful in getting an interview. Subsequently after expanding the job search you do get an interview on a job applied to, albeit one of the jobs that isn’t really in your field of first choice.

Okay so are you with me? You go through the job interview, get offered and accept the job. After all, it’s a job. It’s money in the bank account, current experience, a rise in self-esteem – hey somebody wants you! There’s no downside to taking this job, so what could possibly be the problem?

There is a problem you see; something isn’t right. You can’t figure it out logically though. You were unemployed just a short time ago and now you’re not. Your friends and family were happy for you when you told them you got hired, and initially, you were happy too. Something isn’t right though. You should be happy but you’re anxious. The people at the new place of employment are friendly, welcoming, helpful and they are doing all they can to make your transition to the ‘team’ a smooth one. You should be happy right? But again, you’re not. “What’s wrong with me?” you ask yourself.

Maybe, just maybe mind, you are afraid of succeeding in the new job. After all, if it turns out you’re good in the job, you might be tempted to stay long-term. The money is decent if not good, the people friendly and just what you’d want in your co-workers. The job you went to school for however; the job you envisioned and promised yourself you would ultimately get – well…that’s fading with every day you put in 7 or 8 hours working for a company doing something different.

You reason that if you were unemployed you’d still be looking for a job in your primary field instead of being trapped in this, your secondary work of choice. If you spend 6 months or a year here, you’re references for the job of your dreams will be a year out of date. The education you had if you stay for a year will be secondary to the new grads coming out in a year who will be more relevant and current. Job search after working a full day? Who has the energy for that when there’s work around the house to do?

In fact, if you quit or got yourself dismissed, it would actually come as a blessing not a bad thing! While it’s not like you to pack things in, be a quitter or underperform, you just feel physically ill while at work, trapped in this job you didn’t really want, doing things you really don’t want to do, but yet you are somehow good at.

I suspect that a growing number of people  see themselves in this scenario. Out of work, they wonder if they aren’t actually better off without a job in order to concentrate on getting the perfect job; the dream job. They are in short, conflicted. Work after all is good. It sure beats unemployment but is accepting anything other than the perfect job conceding, giving in, settling?

So only a few days into the job and you’re wondering, “Did I make a big mistake taking this job? What if I’m actually good at it and end up here for years?”

There is a belief out there that it’s easier to get a job when you have a job. You know, it’s based on the idea that you’re more marketable, your skills current, your work routines established. Employers like to hire people who are work ready rather than unemployed. References if you choose to use people at the current job will be stronger if you have been out of work for a number of years too – providing you made it past probation at the minimum.

Yes, fear of success can freeze a person in their tracks. It’s as if they think, “I might actually get a job if I apply for one, so I won’t apply for a job unless it’s my dream job.”  The problem on the other hand  is that the dream job might not actually come up, or if and when it does, you don’t get an interview or an offer. Now what?

That fear of success could keep you unemployed for a long time. And all the while, your skills get rusty, knowledge out-of-date, references stale and self-confidence sags. What’s to be done? Take a job you know isn’t your first choice until something in your primary field comes along, or hold out and be unemployed so you don’t feel trapped in a job you don’t like but might be good at?

There is no one answer for all people. There are a lot of variables to consider. I’d like to hear YOUR thoughts.