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Should You Take a Job 'Beneath' You?

By Miriam Salpeter

Statistics show that a lot of people have been employed much longer than they would have ever expected. Perhaps your field has downsized so much that there aren't that many open positions. No matter why you've been unemployed so long, at some point, desperation begins to set in, and you wonder if you should try to get a job you would have thought was "beneath you," just to get back into the workforce and earning a paycheck.

Whether or not you should take a step down in your expectations depends on a lot of factors, and is a very personal decision that you should think carefully about. Here are some questions to consider if you are thinking about taking a job that you are overqualified for:

How long can you afford to search for a position without earning income?

It would be foolish to make this list without starting with the obvious factor: You need to earn money to pay your bills. Be strategic about your expenses and be sure to carefully cut everything that you can from your budget while you look for work. The more you can stretch your unemployment benefits and/or your savings, the more flexibility you will have to wait for the best job for you.

Can you expect there to be positions in your field at your level?

You may be in the category of job seekers who are not likely to find positions at all because those jobs simply don't fit the current economy. In that case, it makes a lot of sense to seek a job that may be a step or two "down" in a related field in order to get into a new industry. Scrutinize your past field. If no one is getting jobs, and the companies who used to hire people like you are going out of business, assume it is very reasonable to take step back in order to build a new career.

Will you be able to practice necessary skills in the new job?

Most jobs have a whole list of transferable skills associated with them. For example, you can learn and improve your communication skills, teamwork abilities, how you perform under pressure, and management skills in many different positions. If there's a skill you know you could improve, taking a job that you're a little overqualified to do can help you hone those key skills that may help you get a better job next time.
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