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Oct 01 2017
Are You Underemployed?
D'Ann Johnson, CCE, Roofers Supply
In the August 12, 2014, Forbes magazine issue, Kathryn Dill reported on "The Ten Most Underemployed Jobs in America." In her article she states that data released by the compensation comparison site Payscale.com, up to 22 million workers in the U.S. could be considered "underemployed", a term Payscale  defines as "having part-time work but wanting full-time work, or holding a job that doesn't require or utilize a person's education, experience or training."

Assuming that you are employed full time or you are working part-time but not wanting full-time employment, being underemployed boils down to one main thread: your skills/abilities are not being utilized which may prevent you from growing into your full potential. This can happen for several reasons:

  • Your company many not have the ability (by union contract, lack of availability or other) to allow for cross over or cross training in different positions
  • You may not demonstrate a high level of competency in your current position or within your assigned responsibilities to merit being given additional responsibilities
  • It may be an issue of perception, in that there may be personality differences, unresolved conflict or a perception that you are not a team player.

From an employer perspective, these can all be valid reasons for limiting your growth potential within your current organization. 

If you have clearly demonstrated the value you bring to the table, either by competency or self-advocacy and that there are no legal restrictions that limit the company in this area, it is completely within the management teams' ability to provide you with opportunities to meet your needs. However, the ball is in your court when it comes to letting your supervisor know what will make you feel valued. Clear proof of the contributions you make will help your supervisor see the importance in meeting your needs. 

With that said, it still doesn't guarantee that it will occur. Managers are people and while in a perfect world everyone would be treated equally, there are personality issues that may come into play. Your manager may have a personality "typethat they prefer. Or, they may have established a deep working relationship with another team member leaving less opportunity for you to connect.

Fortunately, there are other avenues available that may assist you in either building, sharpening or simply using your skills that should allow you to grow into your full potential.

Here are some ideas to get you started...

Volunteer for any in-house projects that are outside your current job responsibilities. There is no better way to show your superiors what you are capable of taking on a project and knocking it out of the park - going above and beyond to shine! 

If that isn't available, then look outside your company and volunteer! NACM and ICEL are always looking for people to serve on committees and/or boards. The minimal time commitment required (seriously, most committees meet twice during the year) is far outweighed by the benefits you receive from participating. You will be networking, using current abilities, honing skills and possibly learning additional skills. Participating in something that gives you the opportunity to "strut your stuff" and use skills that may otherwise go dormant, can feel empowering and bolster your sense of fulfillment that may be lacking in your current position. And, you get to have fun doing it!

Additionally, working on a committee or participating on a board might be another avenue to show your current employer not only what you can do, but that you are committed to building your skills and aren't afraid to step outside your comfort zone!

So, the next time you're at an ICEL meeting or NACM event, talk to one of the board members about being on a committee, volunteering for an event or writing an article for the newsletter! Contact Lisa Keller at NACM lisa@nacmint.com and she'll give you contact information for the different committee chairs to get signed up!

Come join the party and don't let underemployment get the better of you!