When to Settle for a Lesser Job

By Paula Santonocito


You’ve been searching for a new job for months and haven’t landed a position. Should you set your sights lower?

Still Looking

Before you make a decision, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the job market.

Yes, unemployment continues to rise and, as more people look for work, there is increased competition for available positions.

However, and this is a big however, many of the jobs lost in the current recession have been in fields like construction and the auto industry. The financial services field hasn’t fared well either.

Interestingly, statistics also show that the U.S. recession has hit men harder than women from the standpoint of employment, and it’s for this very reason.

Because male-dominated fields, like construction, have had more layoffs than female-dominated fields, such as health care, unemployment for women isn’t as high as it is for men.

What does this mean to you as a job seeker?

Basically, the situation is more complex than unemployment numbers reveal and job fair lines suggest.

If you’ve been working in a field that’s been walloped by the economic downturn, your job search will be more difficult. But if you’re still in a relatively hot industry, like health care or technology, it may be advisable to continue the search.

Among the areas you’ll want to review is whether your resume truly conveys your skills and experience and if you’re networking to the best of your ability. Or, if you’ve been landing interviews, but haven’t yet received a job offer, perhaps it’s time to brush up on your interviewing skills.

Nevertheless, if you keep hitting a wall, you might feel you have no choice but to seek and accept a lesser position.

Before You Compromise

And it may be necessary to do so, at least temporarily. But before you decide to go this route, make sure you’ve exhausted your options.

These include changing industries. Can your skills and experience be transferred to an industry that’s hiring? If so, you may be able to do the same kind of work in a different field.

Another possibility is to use your skills and experience in a slightly different role.

Here’s an example. With companies hiring fewer employees, there’s less demand for corporate recruiters. Yet many of the skills recruiters possess can be put to good use in sales, marketing, and training positions-and many displaced corporate recruiters have successfully transitioned to these roles.

Another option is to register with a staffing agency appropriate to your experience level. Companies hire a wide range of employees on a temporary basis, even executives.

Similarly, many consulting firms continue to seek talented professionals.

Exhausted and Desperate

Still, how do you know when it is time to compromise, perhaps compromise a lot?

Personal circumstances vary greatly, and yours will no doubt play a major part in whether you decide to settle for a lesser job or choose to keep searching for a more ideal position.

But, you should also be honest in assessing how you’re handling the job search. Ask yourself if the lengthy job search is negatively affecting your self esteem. Also, has unemployment adversely impacted other aspects of your life? And finally, is it financially imperative that you have income sooner rather than later?

If the answer to all three questions is a resounding yes, it may be time to take that lesser job.

Keep in mind that if you do decide to settle, it doesn’t have to be forever. The economy will eventually turn around and other opportunities will become available. Besides, your lesser job might lead to more, especially when your new employer sees what you have to offer.

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