Once considered an unacceptable option to the career-minded, underemployment has become increasingly common as more professionals find themselves out of work for extended periods of time. You need a job and the optimum one is not on the horizon. The key is to be flexible. Taking a step down doesn't have the negative impact on one's career that it used to have. Nor does changing jobs with regular frequency. Climbing back up the career ladder is commonplace in today’s volatile employment market.
If you have made the difficult decision to accept a job that is below previous employment levels - in terms of title, responsibilities and salary - stay as long as necessary, but not one day longer.
Tips for managing underemployment
1) Continue networking and job-hunting even after accepting a lower-level position.
2) Look for companies that provide an opportunity to move up. Maybe it’s not exactly what you want, but it may offer potential and long-term growth.
3) If you are underemployed, don't change jobs just for the sake of changing. This is not the economy for job-hopping. Make your next position a calculated career move.
4) Do the research and evaluate the opportunity. Weigh the options carefully.
5) Make the transition into your dream job in a series of steps. It’s highly unlikely that your dream job will fall into your lap.
6) If you inevitably have to take a step down, use the time to gain experience to break into a new position. It’s a good time to become familiar with something you always wanted, but weren't qualified for.
7) Take a job that teaches you something new. Build skill sets that enhance your marketability and job portfolio.
8) Sell to your experiences and expertise. Just because you are not in sales doesn't mean you don't know how to sell.
9) Create a resume that highlights the skills applicable to the lower level job you are after. Keep multiple versions of your resume on hand for better quality positions. Show how you can bring value to the company.
10) Communicate that you would be happy in the available position.
11) Keep a positive attitude. Just because this particular step is not toward the ultimate job, it doesn't mean it won't present an opportunity.
12) If you excelled in your last job, you will probably excel in the next one and move up quickly.
13) Never accept a position you will hate just for the sake of a job. This will do you more harm than good.
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