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Monday, December 3, 2007

Underemployment: What It Is And How You Can Avoid It

Underemployment is typically when you are employed in a position that does not fully utilize your skills and is probably a position that is not ideally suitable for you at this stage in your career.

Letting yourself get into this position can cause bigger problems long term but can also have immediate negative effects on your career.

In my experience as a recruiter, being underemployed can be dangerous for a number of reasons, all of which can hurt your long-term success:

People who experience underemployment tend to feel desperate to change jobs.

When you are desperate to change jobs, this usually becomes obvious to hiring managers and recruiters. No one wants to hire a desperate person but if you know you are underemployed, you can manifest it by applying for any job that comes your way which may simply lead you to accept another ill-suited position.

When you suffer from underemployment, it can be difficult to convince a potential hiring manager that you're capable of a more senior position.

Afterall, if you should have a more senior position, why don't you? I've interviewed job searchers who are underemployed who not only show their desperation to change jobs (see above point) but tell me that they are having trouble convincing hiring managers that they actually qualify for more senior positions.

This is tough because some hiring managers will just look at the person's current job title and responsibilities and rule this person out of the running for whatever job they are looking to fill. In other words, not only are you underemployed, you find it hard to convince people that you're capable or doing more!

Underemployment can lead to problems in your personal life.

When you experience underemployment, you can also become underpaid. Being underpaid can again lead you to take desperate measures and certainly leaving one job for another for solely monetary reasons can lead to more problems especially if the job you move to ends up being not exactly as you'd thought it would be.

If you experience underemployment, you might be short changing yourself (literally) by not only preventing yourself from having a more satisfying job, but from having a higher paying one too.

How can you avoid underemployment?

Don't let yourself become too comfortable at work. In other words while it's nice to feel safe in your position, feeling too safe can cause you to lag behind and then find it hard to catch up again.

Keep active in your industry whether it be talking to peers, attending industry conferences, taking training classes through work or on your own, etc. In other words, keep up to date with what's going on in your industry and don't allow yourself to fall out of touch.

Don't let yourself become bored at work where you become desperate to leave and then start looking at any job to move to. Desperation leads to making rash decisions that you'll regret later on.

Don't change jobs without first considering all the pros and cons of staying in your current position versus moving to the new one. When you change jobs, it should be a progression in not only compensation but responsibilities, too.

Underemployment can lead to a downward spiral in your career that becomes difficult to escape from if you let it drag on too long. This is especially true in a difficult job market when employers can pick and choose who they want to hire.

Typically, they'll look at hiring people with a consistent track record of increased responsibilities during their career as opposed to someone who looks like they've stalled or regressed.

Carl Mueller is an Internet entrepreneur and professional recruiter. Carl has helped many job searchers find their dream career and would like to help clear up some of the job search myths that exist while helping job searchers avoid common job search mistakes that cost them jobs.

Visit Carl's website to find your dream career:

Ezine editors/Webmasters: Please feel free to reprint this article in its entirety in your ezine or on your website. Please don't change any of the content and please ensure that you include the above bio that shows my website URL. If you would like me to address any specific career topics in future articles, please let me know.


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