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Are you UNDERemployed? Here Are a Few Tips

By C. Zawadi Morris | Bed-Stuy Patch

The unemployment rate may be readying itself for a slow, but gradual decline, as it hovers at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on September 2.

However, according to the latest Gallup survey, underemployment — a classification that includes those workers that are highly skilled but working in low-paying jobs or low skill jobs, and part-time workers that would prefer to be full-time — remains high.

At 18.9 percent, underemployment is more than twice that of unemployment, as of September 21, 2011.

Daryl Pigat, Metro Market Manager with Robert Half Professional Staffing Services, (1 Metrotech Center, downtown Brooklyn, 17th floor), says there are useful tips for Bed-Stuy residents or anyone who suddenly finds themselves in an underemployment scenario.

“We’re going on four years now in an economic downturn. I think people just want to work, and they’re willing to do even less than what they’re qualified for,” said Pigat. “That, coupled with employers with tighter purse strings and some hesitancy in some sectors to add certain skill sets has helped fuel underemployment levels.”

Pigat has worked at Robert Half for seven years. He’s familiar with what’s going on in the employment world, on a granular level. He has gained invaluable insight from talking regularly with employers and has developed best practices he shares with his clients for making the best out of their underemployment status:

Display The Right Attitude and Make Yourself Invaluable—It’s easy to feel down and become resentful, when you’re not working to your full capacity. But try to remain humble and display the right attitude, because attitude plays a major role in decisions when it’s time for your boss keep people, let go of people or move them around. Also, make it known to your employer that you can and are willing to do more. Often people will wait for things to come to them, rather than speaking up. Nowadays, employers really value the jacks-of-all-trades.

Always Network and Market Yourself—Try to speak to everyone, say “hello” to everyone on the job, when you can. Take advantage of a lunchroom; see if there are clubs you can join to become more known, so that if something arises, you are well positioned to make a move. Consider volunteering with your company offsite, to leverage that networking ability.

Work on Adding a Skill Set in Emerging Markets—Right now, healthcare and accounting are sectors that have remained steady and are even growing. Technology is another one that has continued to be pretty stable. For example, in the DUMBO area of Brooklyn, technology remains a fast-emerging market, where you see new businesses opening up shop in a big way. So if you’re considering adding a skill or going back to school, healthcare, accounting and technology are the hottest markets right now, in terms of coming back.

“Whether you’re unemployed or underemployed, just for yourself, make sure you are ready with an updated resume,” said Pigat. “Expand your personal and professional networks; there’s LinkedIn, where you can speak to people in your industry. There’s always ways to add a skill or take on a course — anything that might be an addition to your resume.”

“With all of the tough situations that are out there, there are some really bright spots where people have turned their lives around, from being unemployed, to underemployed, to gainfully employed.”

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