Take a Lesser Job?

Posted on: October 15th, 2013 by
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I’ve read that almost 20% of the working population is underemployed and 50% of college graduates are overqualified for their new jobs.  So, should you take a job where you are overqualified and join the underemployed group?  Tough question.

Answer these questions and weigh them against the job opportunity that you’re considering.  There are no right or wrong answers, only informed alternatives:

  • If you wait for a better position, how long do you think it will take?
  • Do you wait it out or take something short term, but at a lower level?
  • Do you take a job just to stay in the workforce and earn some income short term?
  • With a short-term job in a new industry, will you be able to get back to your industry?
  • How long can you sustain yourself and family without an income?
  • At what level do you expect to return to your industry?  Will the economy turn in time?
  • Can the new skills in a new job be transferable to the job or industry you want?
  • Assuming you perform at a high level, are there promotional opportunities?

Normally in a lower paying job it will take years to recover what you would have earned had you not shifted down a level.  There are exceptions however:

  • Working in a high growth company creates opportunity with expanded staffing
  • A downshift may give you skills and experience you want or need in the future
  • Will you be able to segue to another job/industry/function with a faster career ladder up?
  • Can you change to similar functions, like sales support to sales or I.T. to operations?
  • Are there opportunities for promotion through a vendor, supplier, or customer?
  • Can you accelerate into a higher-level position with better-than-average performance?

If you need a paycheck, consider these questions:

  • Can your short-term job become permanent or leveraged to better fit your career?
  • Will you be in a job that is detrimental or incompatible with your future direction?
  • How will you explain the lower level of pay and responsibilities in an interview?
  • Will past employers take you back at your old level and pay at a later date?

In summary, your decision is primarily based on two factors:

  • The amount of time and financial resources you have to be able to wait for the best job
  • The ability to leverage your lower level job into a position of opportunity for the future

Neither choice is easy.

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