Valley Works: Underemployment frustrating to many

September 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The latest unemployment numbers show that there are 8 million people in this U.S. working part-time because their hours were cut or they couldn't find a full-time job.

Analysts say there are just as many people who are overqualified for their job.

Many workers in that position feel like they are stuck - if they want to pay the bills they have no other choice. We talked to a Fresno career coach who says there are many steps you can take to improve your work situation.

Phill Rhoads is more optimistic when it comes to finding a job. It's been two years since he was laid off from what he called a dream job as a computer graphic designer with AT&T.

"It's the biggest communications company in the world and it was great union wages - that was an awesome job," Rhoads said.

It's the kind of job Rhoads doesn't believe he will be able to find again. He knows - he's been looking.

"A lot of other jobs that were asking for the same thing with ad companies, marketing companies, they were only wanting to pay people half the amount I was making," Rhoads said.

Rhoads calls it the reality of today's job market, one where you can expect to see hundreds of people competing for the same job and many willing to take whatever they can get.

"The job market is so brutal right now; you don't know when the next job offer is going to happen," Rhoads said.

People working in part-time jobs, people working in jobs where they are overqualified and not using their skills - they are called the underemployed. Statistics show their numbers are equal to the number of people without jobs.

Career coach Susan Whitcomb calls them the painfully employed.

"And those are people who aren't in jobs because they choose to be there, they are there because they've made a decision that they have to make house payments or provide for their family," Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb says workers in this position often feel like they don't have a choice, she says they do - they can use the job as an opportunity to improve their skills or work to get a promotion

"Maybe it's a new project you might suggest to your boss that you could do that you could show you're a team player," Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb, who is also author of the book, 30-Day Promotion, encourages workers to take a very pro-active approach to managing their career.

"You need to be able to say these are my goals, these are the people I need to know to get to where I want to go," Whitcomb said. "These are the skills I need to add to my tool-belt, these are the accomplishments I need to be able to add to my resume."

It's advice job-seekers like Rhoades agrees with and says you need to try to find opportunities where you are.

"Prove to people you can do your work the best you can and hopefully there will be openings where you can move up in the company you're with," Rhoades said.

Whitcomb says if you do plan to look for another job while working, don't do it on your current employers dime. Be sure you're not using their resources and time. Instead look for opportunities to network in the evenings and during your lunch hour.


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