While the unemployment rate is being touted as at an all-time low, the data doesn't reveal the fact that millions of professionals are underemployed. Having a job is not enough. When you have a job that is beneath your skill set, a couple of things can happen.

Even Academy Award-Winning Actors Can't Hide Job Dissatisfaction

First, you can get really depressed and see your performance drop due to disengagement, leading to you being fired from a job that you didn't like. This is tough to explain in future job interviews because your career confidence is shaken.

Stale Skills Don't Pay Bills

Second, staying in a job where you aren't up-skilling makes it harder for you to stay relevant in the marketplace. As industries and skill sets die off, you could find it even harder to stay employed in the future due to a long stint of underemployment where you failed to grow as a professional. Here are the warning signs you are underemployed and at risk at having a career setback...

A. Your workday drags on... and on... and ON. If you're counting every minute and leave the second the clock strikes five, your work is clearly not keeping you engaged and motivated.

B. You haven't learned or done anything new in months. You can't grow as a professional if you aren't learning new things. Doing the same over and over again without variation or evolution is a skill set on the decline.

C. You're embarrassed to say what you do for a living. We know when we aren't being utilized fully. If you can't stand sharing your work because it feels beneath you, then you've got a problem.

D. You don't see how this job will lead to a better one. Some jobs are boring but offer a stepping stone to something better. If your job doesn't have a clear pathway to career advancement, it's time to consider a change.

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above, then you are likely underemployed. You're not alone. Millions and millions of professionals suffer from underemployment. Sadly, most won't fix the problem because they aren't willing to do the four steps needed to do so.

4 Steps to Fix Your Underemployment Problem

I've worked with thousands of professionals who felt underemployed. In my experience, here's what it takes to get out of a dead-end job and into a better one...

Step 1: End the pity party. The biggest reason why people can't change their career direction is the negative self-talk (NST) they let play on repeat in their head. You only have so much energy in the day to put towards your career. You drain it quickly when you let the NST dominate your brain. You need a career mantra to fight back and keep yourself on track.

Step 2: Think (and act!) like a winner. As crazy as it sounds, the moment my clients start acting like the winners they want to be, something changes. The vibe they put out around them is more positive. They are kinder, more outgoing, and more interesting. Suddenly, they find themselves in new conversations and situations that lead to results. The reality is, people like to talk to and help winners. So, act the part!

Step 3: Embrace and promote the strengths of your workplace personas. Everyone has unique ways in which they prefer to provide value on the job. It's called your "workplace personas" - and when you know what yours are and how to use them, you'll be able to articulate your value to hiring managers so you can get the jobs you really want.

Step 4: Make networking a daily priority. If you learn one thing in this new age of transparency and rapid change it should be, "your network is your net worth." Today, getting a job is all about who you know. Getting introduced to people who work at your dream employer takes strategy and patience. Networking on a daily basis via tools like LinkedIn help you stay visible and connected to those who can help open doors. Knowing how to serve your network so they'll want to serve you is the key!

P.S. Don't Be the Victim of Underemployment, Be The Superhero of Career Development

Finding a new, better job starts with the right mindset and ends with the right daily activities. There's no career fairy godmother. As corny as it may sound, you really do have to be the superhero in your own career story. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can re-write the on-going history of your career, save the day, and get that happy ending.

Published on: Oct 22, 2018