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5 Ways To Combat Underemployment

by Alissa Henry on June 20, 2012

Are you underemployed?

Are you underemployed? If so, you’re not alone.

Recently, the Associated Press reported “1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed”.

According to the AP:

“Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.”

Many new graduates – and their parents who often find themselves subsidizing their children’s low income – are experiencing this unfortunate trend first hand.

How many? Well, the article goes on to say, “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years.”

Most would agree being underemployed is better than being jobless, but that doesn’t mean individuals who are underemployed have it easy.

While looking for the job they want, some people have realized it is necessary to take any job they can get as long as it stops the slow drain of available funds in their savings account.

However, underemployment doesn’t have to be a permanent situation.

Ways to combat being underemployed

1)   Determine if you are actually underemployed or if you are just “paying your dues”. A part-time barista interested in owning her own coffee shop may not be bringing home a substantial paycheck right now, but she isn’t necessarily underemployed. Why? Because – though it may not be the managerial job she wanted – her current position is definitely on the right career track. Whereas an aspiring chemical engineer working as a barista would definitely classify as underemployed. Consider your current position and your career goals to determine if you truly fit this description.

2)   Volunteer in an area you’re interested in. Many companies won’t accept interns who aren’t gaining college credit; however, there may be other ways to volunteer in your desired field without having to be an intern at Company A. For instance, if you’re interested in getting a job as a cameraman, volunteer to run camera at your local church or for a community event.

3)   Take a second job in a field that will help you gain experience. If you have time in your schedule, you definitely should consider taking a second job in a field you’re interested in. For instance, if you want to be a teacher, but work part-time at an electronics store, sign up to be a tutor or even a camp counselor at your local YMCA. You can supplement your current income while building your resume and experience.

4)   Discover ways to tailor your current job to your interests. If you’re interested in marketing, but could only land an office assistant position, offer to set up or help maintain a social media account for your company. Every business from major corporations to family based painting companies seem to have social media presence these days. Help your company reach new people while also making your work more enjoyable.

5)   Continue to network and seek a mentor in your field. The longer you stay underemployed, the further away you progress from you career goals. It’s important to give all you’ve got to your current job but to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities that will help move you toward your desired destination.

There are many ways to get to where you want to go in life and current underemployment doesn’t have to be a dead end.  It can actually turn out to be an unlikely stepping stone.

Are you (or have you ever been) underemployed? Tell us your experience in the comments!

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