The Silent Soul-Crusher: UNDERemployment

21 01 2010


Hello blogosphere, it’s been a while.  I got a job back in June and since then, kind of fell off the blogging wagon.  I thought, hey I’m employed now, it’s all good.  Hah! Little did I know that with each day I spent at my new job, my soul would be crushed a little bit more.

At first, I was psyched to be back at work – just to be doing something besides searching endlessly for jobs on the internet.  Everyone asked me how my new job was and I said things like “I have a whole new perspective now,” and “I’m just grateful to have any job at all.”  Which was true.

But in hindsight, I took my job because I was depressed and desperate, not because it was something I was truly passionate about, or a company I really wanted to work for.  And as a result, here I am, underemployed and stuck, eight full months later.

Here are some signs that you (and I) are underemployed:

  • Your bosses take you for granted and don’t treat you well (i.e. no holiday bonus, no holiday gift, no holiday card, never say thank you, expect you to go above and beyond your job duties with no compensation).
  • You accepted a lower salary than you should have because you were desperate, and now you’re barely breaking even.  You may have even accepted a job with no benefits (like me), which was a mistake and is a constant source of stress and worry.
  • You feel underpaid and under-appreciated on a daily basis and are working in a position below what you should be/are qualified for.
  • You dread the idea of having to start the job search process over  again and possibly end up in a position you still don’t like, but you know you don’t want to stay in your current job.
  • You sometimes consider going back to school, but have no money to pay for it or means to support yourself while doing so.
  • You watch your friends and old coworkers advance in their careers while you remain stagnant in yours, and even feel like you have regressed.
  • You are depressed that you can’t get unemployment again if you quit your job and regret not spending more time looking for a job you really wanted.
  • You want to feel sorry for yourself but know you shouldn’t, but no one really understands who hasn’t been through the same thing.

So that’s it, that’s my sob story of underemployment.  I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, or wallow in my underemployment, but it’s hard.  All I can do is try to maintain a somewhat positive attitude while going into my job that I don’t like (verge of hate) every day, and hope that someday soon, I’ll get my big break.  I keep hearing that there are “millions” of my fellow underemployed Americans stuck in the same position that I am and that should be comforting, but somehow it just makes the task of trying to find a new job seem even more daunting.

Still, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one.  So if you’re out there, fellow underemployed, sound off here. What advice do you have for me or anyone else in our shoes?  In the meantime, I’ll keep you updated on my struggle to break free from underemployment (have an interview Friday!).




9 responses

21 01 2010

Good post! Many unemployed people feel that even if they are overqualified for an opening they would take it in a heartbeat. I can understand if unemployment has run out–along with any options. A job with ANY pay will help in the short-term, but being stuck and not being able to quit will drag anyone down!

Don’t give up!

5 02 2010

I stumbled onto your blog today after looking up:

“You watch your friends and old coworkers advance in their careers while you remain stagnant in yours, and even feel like you have regressed.”

In my opinion, comparing yourself with others is one of the most self destructive actions you could do to your emotional state when you’re in this situation; I personally try to stop my thoughts as soon as I start getting into this comparing game because think about it, in any situation, there’s always going to be someone out there with more than you. Now, stop yourself for a moment and think of the reverse situation. (Pause) There are millions of other people who have nothing compared to you; homeless, unable to receive unemployment, etc. I hope that you get my drift. Being and feeling thankful for what you already have will bring you instant joy – focus on what you have and the people around you who are in your life (including me now).

“You want to feel sorry for yourself but know you shouldn’t, but no one really understands who hasn’t been through the same thing.”

You’re 100% right! I’m going through it and I can relate. Once again, 100%. I think that what you’re doing with your blog is memorable. You make yourself vulnerable to the world but you’re putting yourself out there to request help and support from other fellow unemployed or underemployed people. If you weren’t doing that, you would get: nothing. Way to go!

For example, if you weren’t doing this, I would never been writing this long comment to you and offer my advice. (I’m only two years older than you, so take what I say with a grain of salt. 😉

Continue to blog your feelings out along with your progress and story like you are. Someone’s listening, someone’s reading. Believe it.

Stay positive and nurture yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Now isn’t the time to break down, now is the time to unleash your creative self to find that dream career of yours.

Good luck and I look forward to more of your blog posts! =)

Hugs from Seattle, WA!

PS. I love NYC!

25 02 2010

Hey! Just read your post and I totally Understand your situation and agree w the others who posted responses. I’m unemployed which I’m happy about bc that means I could play music all day and I’m on unemployment which I’m real thankfull about but it’s really not enough to live on, even in bklyn. So I spend too much time on craigslist looking for something, anything that I have even a slight interest in but nothing ever comes up. So I understand why one would take a job they’re not so interested in just to pay the bills. I guess u can keep looking for something else while networking and making the best of what u have now. I’m just so surprised that there’s not more opportunity for all the creative artists and talented individuals out of work n NYC. But as it was said b4, be thankfull for what u have bc there’s always people out there with more and less than u have. Good luck and keep us updated w what u decide to do….. Scott

26 02 2010

I can sympathize. I have been unemployed 15 months in this NY market and was just offered a job I really have no interest in or desire to take. Unfortunately I don’t see an alternative. I need to pay my bills and the longer I am unemployed, the less appealing I think I will be to potential employers. I’m upset because going in I already know I will be looking elsewhere and my resume already portrays me as a job hopper. It is a no win situation. However I have to try and remain positive for the time being and be thankful for finally finding work

Hang in there!

4 11 2010

Hi Mike,
I can relate. From moving to various cities and changing jobs to advance a career or due to companies going into receivership, etc. it seems I’ve found myself having to take a job way below my skill level, at a $20,000 decrease from my former salary. I do menial tasks and wait out the clock. Scarily enough, I’ve been there over 6 months now, with little/no hope for growth. I contact recruiters and search for jobs daily to no avail. I’m continuing with education, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Argh.

25 03 2010
Sour Apples

I am underemployed and my job is a poor fit from many angles. However, I make myself vent and pray whenever I have to. There are many factors working against me, but I could either let the bs consume the rest of my day, or try to
find something that will fulfill me outside of work. In the meantime, I am currently working two jobs, but once my second assignment is done, I am going to intentionally reach out to
other people – not just for networking, but to regain a sense of connection with people. I work in nonprofit and deal with poor management and stressful interactions with needy people, so that is where I am coming from. I am discouraged from taking time off, even if I forfeit pay and if a client dislikes me, the management usually takes their side without listening to me first. But when I line up more job prospects and have more interactions with emotionally healthy people.

I hope you find my words encouraging and that you find more remunerative work soon.

5 06 2010

Just stumbled across this. You 100% hit the nail on the head! I’ve been in this underemployed hell for almost 4 years now! And the full-time jobs offered in my area (Norfolk/Va Beach) don’t pay enough to afford a decent place to live, so to avoid taking the first thing that comes along just to leave for something better, I’ve stayed in this situation to avoid looking like a job hopper. So very frustrating. But we have to stay encouraged. Best wishes!

10 09 2010
L Kan

Anyone passionate about foreign affairs? You should check out … because I agree, it’s good to be passionate about what you do.

19 01 2011

It’s not easy to be feel so dispensible… and work all of the worst hours for the least pay… 4 YEARS and counting.

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