Underemployment is rampant these days among middle-aged executives who have been laid off and recent college graduates who are struggling to land their first job.
If you’re trying to figure how to be content with your job when you find yourself in a position that doesn’t match your skill set, try some of these suggestions.
Steps to Take with Your Employer
1. Clarify expectations. Research the company and talk with your coworkers. See if there’s real evidence of your company rewarding superior performance and employees advancing up the corporate ladder. If not, it might be time to look for a new job.
2. Become a trainer. If you’re more experienced than your colleagues, you may be able to provide training and mentoring. Ask your supervisor about setting up a program.
3. Volunteer for other responsibilities. Think beyond your job description and look for interesting tasks that your supervisor may want to hand off. Offer to help a coworker with an assignment that you want to learn more about.
4. Make an impact. Dream up ways to make your activities more engaging. Challenge yourself to enhance the quality of customer service or speed up the processing time for invoices.
5. Focus on helping others. Life immediately becomes more pleasant when you take your mind off your worries and try to serve others. Offer sincere praise to your colleagues or pitch in when a deadline is close.
6. Manage your downtime. Some workplaces will give you considerable freedom if you accomplish your workload faster than expected. Otherwise, you may need to make an effort to show you’re busy to avoid friction.
7. Extend your reach. Connect with other business people outside your office. Participate in your company’s social media campaigns. Become active in the local chapter of a professional association.
8. Ask about free perks. Even if your job has a low salary, there may be some potential for other benefits. Explore the possibility of flexible hours or working from home.
More Actions You Can Take
1. Reduce your overhead. Cutting your living expenses gives you more flexibility to explore other professional options. You’ll feel less stressed, and you may be able to take a pay cut that allows you to pursue your dreams like tutoring children or coaching baseball.
2. Take a test drive. Try out a new role before you make a full time commitment. Volunteer at a charity thrift shop to see what the retail world is really like. Help a friend paint their basement to get a preview of house painting as a career.
3. Give yourself regular treats. Surround yourself with small pleasures. Read a classic novel at lunch. Arrange a weekend trip to a historic site. Decorate your cubicle with family photos or picture postcards.
4. Plan ahead. Temporary hardships are easier to bear when you have a strategy in place for achieving your long term goals. Keep looking for a position in your chosen field. Stay connected to people in your network.
5. Find your purpose elsewhere. You may decide that other aspects of your life are more important than paid work. There’s more to you than your professional identity. Experience satisfaction in using your paycheck to care for your family or work on your sailboat.
6. Count your blessings. Increase your happiness by remembering to be grateful for all the good things that you have. There may be some interesting tasks about your job that you really like. Take time to appreciate your loved ones and your own talents.
You have the power to make any job more fulfilling. Maintaining a positive attitude and collaborating with your employer can lead to bigger and better opportunities.