How to Know if You Are Underemployed

career personal growth underemployment work Mar 14, 2023

Are you content with the amount of work you do, or are you being appropriately paid in your job? You might be surprised to learn that you may be underemployed. This blog post will discuss the definition of underemployment and some common signs that indicate you might be underemployed. When you know you are underemployed, you can do something to change your career and find a better job for yourself.

Are you working fine in your job?

You may be working fine in your current job, getting paid, and being able to meet your daily needs. However, there is such a thing called underemployment. In the simplest definition, one is underemployed if one cannot fully utilize what they have learned from school and other skills one knows in their current job. Underemployment also happens when one works fewer hours than usual per day or doesn't get paid the minimum or standard rate for whatever job you have. In short, one may have a job and think they are okay, but some elements can be lacking, resulting in an unfulfilling job and decreased earning potential.

Underemployment may not be immediately apparent to workers; some may not even realize they are underemployed as long as they earn a living. Underemployment occurs for several reasons, leading to people having jobs that are not fully optimized for their skills and not getting what they deserve for what they can do.

  • When there are already many people filling up a specific work niche, chances are that companies will no longer hire and make job openings for a particular position. It can result in people settling for a job that doesn't necessarily make use of their skills and knowledge, such as going for a service-type job instead of a more technical job that utilizes what they know.
  • The lack of new opportunities in the area that you live in can make one settle for whatever job is available or move to the city or wherever there are more job opportunities. However, others may also move to areas with more employment opportunities, resulting in competition for fulfilling and lucrative jobs, leaving others settling for whatever is available.
  • When a specific type of job has high demand, expect many to compete to get that job, especially if it is an entry-level job where recent college graduates will vie for it. The same thing can happen to other jobs that look fulfilling and rewarding. So those that don't get the job they want may get another job that is not necessarily a complete fit for them, but they apply for them anyway for the sake of earning.
  • Technological advancements have caused some jobs to be removed entirely due to programs and artificial intelligence taking over. This results in some people becoming unemployed and choosing to do something else that may not be their specialty.
  • Economic difficulties like recession can have a lasting effect on the employment situation of people. It can result in companies laying off people, freezing hiring, or entire industries closing, making it difficult for people to find jobs according to their skill set.

Signs of underemployment

It can be challenging to recognize that you are underemployed, especially if you find that what you earn is enough to satisfy your needs and wants, and you may also be already content with what you are doing. However, if you are looking for more fulfillment and growth, you may notice some things are off with your job. When such signs show up, it may be time for a career change and look for something better that can provide what you are looking for. But on the other hand, knowing such signs can help you look for something else to fulfill your goals.

  • A part-time job instead of a full-time one is a sign of underemployment. Part-time jobs mean working fewer hours compared to a full-time job. While you may earn a decent amount, there can be a lack of benefits and other incentives which full-time work can provide.
  • While working on your job, you may think your job is simple and redundant. This can be because what you are doing requires less skill and knowledge than what you have learned from school. For example, this can happen if someone is tasked with regular office work, such as typing and sorting out documents. However, if somebody with a degree in engineering or programming gets such a job, they will most likely be overqualified or underutilized.
  • Receiving a salary lower than the industry standard for your job is also a sign of being underemployed. The company may be trying to cut costs by lowering your pay in contrast to the amount of work you do. The lack of benefits may also be present.
  • When somebody is underemployed, boredom may set in easier due to your work's lack of challenge and repetitiveness. You don't get assigned any other kind of work, and your job title may be a dead end, meaning there's hardly any or no chance of getting promoted. This can result in a lack of motivation that can affect your quality of work.
  • If you find it challenging to make ends meet, it can be a sign that your current work doesn't pay you enough, and you may be in the wrong one. You may need a second job to fill the gap, or looking for a new job that fits your education and skills might be better.

What can I do to make things better?

Underemployment is not necessarily wrong by itself. However, many people can agree it is better than being unemployed, as lacking a job means no source of income. Your pay may not be enough, or the job is tedious, but at least you still earn. Perhaps the essential consideration is if your job provides enough money and benefits, if any, to cover all your needs and wants and fulfill your goals. If they are all covered, you are good, especially if you are already fulfilled and satisfied with your work. The problem comes when you must make compromises and sacrifices to make a living, such as taking multiple part-time jobs or not having enough hours and tasks to cover all your needs. There is also the issue of personal growth and fulfillment, where it's possible you may not be feeling any of these in your current job. When you notice one or more signs of underemployment in your current work, and you think that something is amiss, it may be time to look for that one job that fits your expertise and allows you to reach your full potential. You can try networking with others to see if they know of any openings, and you can search the Internet for job postings on various websites. It is also good to polish your skills and learn new things, including how to do well at job interviews to ensure you land the job you want. It can be challenging to do all these, but be diligent in your job search, and you may find the perfect job.

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