Should I Apply for Jobs "Beneath" Me?

Dear Robin:

I lost my job seven months ago and I’m having trouble finding another one. In the meantime, my wife is getting frustrated that I’m not applying for some jobs because I know I am overqualified.

Should I go after those jobs or keep looking for the “right” one? For context: my last position was head of security for a major corporation and my wife is encouraging me to apply for jobs in loss prevention.

Your opinion?

Steve

Dear Steve:

I’m sorry for the loss of your job. As much as we hear the economy is improving, for many Americans the job market is still quite bleak.

I am of two different minds here, which is hardly unusual given my oft-bifurcated brain.

Robin’s Two Different Opinions 

Option One, in Which I Agree with You

There is a danger associated with accepting a position for which you are overqualified.

If you are known in your field as having reached a certain level such as head of security for a corporation, applying for and accepting a job chasing shoplifters around Walmart may spark rumors of incompetence and render you less desirable to future employers.

In addition, you may not even be considered for interviews.

It isn’t in the best interests of a company to hire someone who is wildly overqualified for a job.

Employers know you are anxious to secure employment, which explains why you would apply for a job “beneath” you. This in turn signals to them you will likely bail at your earliest opportunity to secure a position more in line with your experience.

Lastly, in the unlikely event you obtained one of these jobs, I predict you would be very unhappy and dissatisfied. That makes for a tough workweek and a tough life at home, especially if you felt pressured to take that job by your wife.

Option Two, in Which I Agree with Your Wife

Your wife works diligently to support your family and after 7 months of your unemployment, she is rightfully frustrated. Money is tight, she is taking on additional hours at work, and from her perspective you are doing little to alleviate the financial pressure under which your family is laboring.

When we emailed you said you had started a new fitness routine and dropped 20 pounds. You expressed surprise your wife wasn’t more proud of you for that and that at least you were “doing something.”

Forgive me for stating the obvious but you told me your wife struggles out of bed at 5:45 every morning to put in a 10-hour workday and can’t find time for her own exercise program. She isn’t likely to be your cheerleader when you mumble,

I’m getting up at 8:30 and training for my triathlon, honey. Stop nagging me; at least I’m doing something!

I can understand why she wants you to get up, get out, and earn some money. So, which option do I advise?

Neither!

I have come up with a third option, far superior to the two you and your spouse devised. Don’t feel bad, this is why they pay me the big bucks.

Option Three: Do Something Different Temporarily 

It may shock you to discover that I have yet to make a fortune on this blog. Until my book drops and takes the country by storm, I expect my income from writing to remain, er, negligible.

As for practicing law, I burned all bridges leading back to my unhappy career.  This makes me smile, but it makes my wallet very grouchy.  Therefore, I have decided to take on some work doing something some might consider “beneath” me but that I am thrilled to accept:

Catering.

Yep!  You read that right!  I will be working these jobs with a friend of mine who owns a catering business.

I’m getting my food service card for the first time since college and I’ll be pouring wine and passing canapés at local weddings, bar mitzvahs, and hopefully at least a few funerals.

I love funerals.

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I agree you shouldn’t take low-level jobs in your field, but I also agree with your wife that you should do your best to bring in money. Please note: there are no jobs “beneath” any of us.  Honest hard work to support your family is an honor, not an embarrassment.

Ask around, inquire with friends and colleagues, and search the Internet job boards for temporary work that can bring in some cash doing something completely different.

You may not make much money, but some is better than none.  Temp work also frees you to continue your serious job search for a position akin to your last.

Finally:

Pinch Your Pennies!

It is so easy to overspend on things we don’t need. I recently went through a list of things Mr. Patience and Understanding pays for that we don’t absolutely need and I was shocked at how much it all adds up.

Take a good hard look at your expenditures and separate the necessary from the optional.  Then start cutting those optional items out of your life until your finances are back on track.

Here are some examples of discretionary spending to cut:

  • Cleaning/gardening services
  • Restaurant meals
  • Entertaining
  • Beauty regimen (for you gals and a few guys) such as nails, hair color, etc.
  • Fancy grocery stores
  • Coffee anywhere but home
  • Cable television
  • Gas (limit your driving and group your outings for maximum fuel efficiency)
  • Clothing
  • Travels
  • Gym (you live in California so don’t tell me you can’t work out outside, ya pussy)

You should also analyze your utility bills to find savings opportunities.  

For example, I’ve turned off the sprinklers for the rest of the year, I take short showers, and I only run the dish-licker (otherwise known as a really shitty dishwasher) and washer and dryer when I have full loads. I make certain all lights not needed are turned off and I plan to wear lots of sweaters this fall and winter rather than keeping the house at my favored toasty 72 degrees.

At every opportunity to spend money, ask yourself:

Do I need this? Does my family need this?

If not, leave your wallet in your pocket and walk away, but not before making a note on paper or your phone of what you didn’t spend.  Add those numbers up weekly and you’ll be both proud and shocked at how much you can save by exercising extreme discretion before making a purchase.

As for work, care to come up to Oregon and cater a wedding with me this weekend?

Best of luck and please check back in to let me know how you are doing!

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PS: Readers, please share on your social media and leave a comment.  What do you think Steve should do?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. kathy

    Robin, you are consistently excellent in your opinions. I know several people in Steve’s position. One even dropped his Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from his resume in order to not be overqualified for the position he applied for. Few of us can afford to not work at all. Apply with a profesional temporary agency, update or create a Linked-In profile.

  2. Keith Stone

    Robin,

    Great advice for Steve… LinkedIn is a great online resource. Networking can be a double edged sword… and Steve will find out who is true friends are because with this economy-the good ‘ol boys club is alive and well! Its not “what you know” anymore…-having connections can be a life saver.

    -KS

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