Finding Work When Underemployed

Neck down view of businessman circling job vacancies in newspaper
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One of the most frustrating situations can occur when you are not getting paid what you are worth. Many people settle on a job out of college to gain experience and stay with it, even if they are not being paid to use all of their skills. This is a common, but serious career mistake. During difficult economic times, many people settle for jobs that pay less than they would normally just to have a steady source of income. You may be ready to move on to a new job right now.

Consider Looking Outside of Your Company

However, once you are in this cycle it can be difficult to break out of it since many jobs look at your previous salary to determine your new salary. It can be especially difficult to move up within the same business if you are in this situation. While you may be looking for opportunities within the same company you may be more successful looking for a job with a different company because you can apply for jobs that you are qualified for without being pigeonholed by your last title.

Make Sure Your Certifications and Skills Are Current

It is important to keep your skills and your certifications current even if you are not using them in your current position. The more skills you have available to you the more jobs you will be qualified to apply for. You should also keep an up to date resume available so that when you hear about the perfect job you can apply for it.

Look for Work While at Your Current Job

Continue to look for work while you are working at your current position. You may want to stay a year in order to show your new company that you will not just jump ship for a better offer. It is also a good way to network for a job with another company. A co-worker may know of an opening somewhere else and be willing to recommend you and clients may be able to give you recommendations to another company or tell you about different job offers.

Consider Using a Career Coach

If you have had a difficult time getting called back for interviews in the past, you should consult with a career coach to improve your resume and cover letter. Each cover letter needs to be unique to the job you apply for and should contain specifics to the company and position. If you are getting called in for interviews, but not making the next round, you may need to practice your interviewing skills. A career coach can help with this as well.

Stick to a Bare-Bones Budget Now

While you are looking for a better job, you do need to live on your current salary and stick to a bare bones budget. Some companies will pull a credit check to make sure you are a good candidate. Having too much debt can be a flag and may lose you the job next to a nearly identical candidate. If you currently have a large amount of debt, you may want to take on a second job to clean it up so you can qualify for a better position. Establish good financial habits now to help you get through this difficult time, so being underemployed does not take you too far off track.

Ask for a Raise

Another frustration can occur when your company continues to add responsibilities to your position, without increasing your pay. They may be taking advantage of your skill set, but are still unwilling to pay. First, you should ask for a raise, and point out the additional duties you have taken on since you were first hired. If they do not give you the raise, be sure to add the added responsibilities to your resume and continue looking for a new job. It is important to keep a positive attitude at your current position since they can contact your supervisor to see how well you work.

Create a Plan to Help You Find a Dream Job

Take the time to figure out your ideal job, and prepare yourself for it. If you settled on a job now, and you are making enough to get by, you can take the time to figure out exactly what you want to do. People often think they will enjoy a field of work, but once they begin that job, they realize it is not fulfilling. You can switch your career, but you need to prepare to do it. List the additional skills and experiences you need to complete in order to qualify for the position you want. Then work on that list while you look for the ideal position. You need to be ready to decide if your new job offer is worth the risk of leaving your secure job behind.

Be Patient and Don’t Give Up

It will take time to find a better position. The higher paying the position, the longer it may take you to find it. However, if you continue to look and stay an active part of any related professional organizations you should be able to find the right job eventually. Keep a positive attitude at your current job but be ready to apply as soon as you find the position you are looking for. You will need to prepare a plan to help you recover from being underemployed once you find your new job.