Many people today find themselves unemployed and underemployed. They have skills, talents, experience and expertise that should make them highly sought after and desirable by employers. Why, then, do they find themselves working in a job paying a wage below what is competitive or struggling to find work at all?
I’ve always considered myself to be a survivor. I’ve told myself that no matter what, I’d find a way to make ends meet, even if I had to work at a job that was way below my skill set. I think it would be tough on my ego to work in a role that I deemed “below me,” but I know I would do it if it meant my family needed to eat. I would be naïve to think it wouldn’t sting my confidence.
Have you fallen into a pattern of turning down jobs that you deem not worthy of your greatness? Are you telling recruiting managers what you believe you’re worth, rather than focus on competitive salary?
When times are tough, the tough get going. That means that regardless of how talented, passionate, experienced and networked you are, when you accept a job that is not up to your standards, keep your personal brand in perspective. Here are some tips to remember:
- You are not defined by your job. Your job is where you work and how you contribute to your employer, community and your family. If you are working in a job that is not up to your skill set and experience, remind yourself that you might be in a role that is one of survival not career. You still possess all of your personal brand traits – those might be qualities like integrity, work ethic, commitment to family, passion for helping others, etc. A job that is less than you’d hoped for doesn’t change that. It just means you are applying your brand to a position that requires you to be more creative in how you define your narrative (story).
- Always give 100%. Most personal brands are anchored in integrity and doing the right thing. If that is true for you, then regardless of the job, you will dedicate yourself fully and wholly to what is asked of you. Integrity is not discriminating based on a pay scale. If you give 100% of yourself to what you do, you will achieve success and build a reputation as someone with a strong work ethic.
- Work a bigger plan. If you feel you are undervalued and underemployed, then make your current situation part of a greater master plan. Use your time (and income) to set a strategy to move forward. If you are earning minimum wage in a service industry and you used to earn six figures in a desk job, then consider whether you are learning tools and skills that could match up with your past experience to open a new career path. Similarly, if you are only able to secure part time work right now, consider whether you could supplement your work week with volunteer work (in a new industry) or even additional schooling and training. This gives you the power to see your current employment situation as temporary and set your sights on a bigger and more rewarding vision.
Your personal brand is anchored in your reputation. Your behavior and actions reflect your values and build how other people perceive you. That perception is not as job specific as you might think. I’ve worked with very senior executives who were promoted without warrant and who find themselves struggling with issues of self-doubt, incompetence and fear of being found out. The job title and pay scale do not determine your self worth. Only you can do that.
“It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.” ― Abraham Lincoln