Overqualified and Underemployed: How to Move On Up

You have the degree and you have a job. The only problem? Your degree is saying you should have a much better job. It might seem trivial to complain about being gainfully employed in this economy, but having the right job is important. After all, you went through school so that you could succeed in your career, not just survive.

In today’s economy, more professionals than ever are stuck in jobs where they’re only treading water. It’s hard to tell just how many people are currently underemployed, as it’s not a category tracked by theLaborDepartment. If you’re not in the right job for your skills, know that plenty of others are in the same boat. Instead of using your talents and education to succeed, it’s easy to get stuck in a job below your skill set.

It might be demoralizing but don’t give up! The worst thing you can do in a job that doesn’t allow you room to grow and thrive is to get complacent. Complacency leads to becoming the one bitter worker haunting every office. You have put time and effort into accumulating impressive experience and educational credentials, and somewhere out there is a job and a career path perfect for you. Do not give up!

The only way to find this perfect job is to be proactive in your search. Sending out resumes might not work, since you’re potentially competing with candidates with identical credentials. You need to make yourself stand out. You can’t move on up to a better job if you’re just a nameless face in the crowd. Do something interesting and you’ll be more noticeable to hiring managers.

How do you make yourself more noticeable? Network! It’s an obvious tip, but it’s obvious for a reason. Hiring managers, employers, and recruiters are more likely to remember you if they’ve had an interaction with you before. You might have a great resume, but if it arrives with no personal knowledge it’s just a piece of paper. Try to attend your industry’s top networking events. Go up to industry leaders and recruiters and introduce yourself.

Work on your personal elevator pitch prior to the event to help with nerves. You might not be a big people person, but networking is important enough to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation for a few hours. After, you will have accumulated new contacts (and even friends!) that will be able to help you on the prowl for your dream job. Your elevator pitch just could be your actual elevator to moving up your career ladder!

If you can’t get out to the industry events it’s still important to be seen. Video resumes are a great and simple way to set you apart from the pack. You won’t be replacing the traditional paper resume, but you will be enhancing it. You’ll also be performing the important task of humanizing yourself. Now you’re not just one sheet in a pile of paper sitting on a recruiter’s desk. You’re the candidate they had a great conversation with and that displayed an impressive upbeat attitude!

Indeed, video resumes can show employers that you’re willing to get creative. They can also show off those intangibles unseen on a paper resume, like the all-important communication skills. Best of all, for office drones stuck in a job you’re trying to escape, recording a video resume means you can work searching for a job in around your schedule. Once you record your resume (at your own leisure) and submit it to potential employers, they can view the resume at their leisure without needing you to be instantly accessible.

The most important thing you can do if you’re looking to move on up and out of your current underemployed situation is not to get discouraged. You are not alone. Plenty of people have been where you are. Don’t feel sorry for yourself and don’t passively accept your lot in life. Get active and get creative and you’ll find a job that utilizes your unique talents in no time. That deluxe office in the sky is just waiting for you. All you have to do is reach for it!

Guest Expert:

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

We are grateful to all of the industry career experts for the top advice and experience they share with our MBA professionals. MBA Highway wouldn't be where it is today without them and their contributions.

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  1. Mary says:

    How about those that are searching for work and are considered over/underqualified whatthen? I’m stuck in this rut & can’t find job no matter how many resumes I send our nor how many hours I network .

  2. Ron Merritt says:

    Hello, My name is Ron. I started my degree program without any transferable credits in the spring of 2002. In 2006 I finished a double major undergrad in Business Management and Marketing utiliziing excelerated programs. I continued this trend in 2006 entering in an excelerated MBA program and graduated in july of 2007. I did this while working full time, volunteering at a mortgage company to get some different skills,taking care of a wife and 2 kids(one w/Junenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), tending to landlord duties and volunteering as an environmental comissioner for Van Buren Twp. Also a leader for the Huron River Watershed Council of Ann Arbor. Dezpite my efforts,I have been unable to become successful. Any suggestions?
    Kind Regards, Ron Merritt MBA