Beware: Don't Take a Job Beneath You, It Can Hurt You Later

Who hasn't done this -- or thought about it -- in these tough employment times?

Taking a job below your skill level.  A new study shows that, rather than proving you're a go-getter and persevering one, you may actually come out a loser.

Researchers have found that doing this can have a negative impact on your career.

Accepting a job below one’s skill level can be severely penalizing when applying for future employment because of the perception that someone who does this is less committed or less competent, according to new research from a sociologist at The University of Texas at Austin.

I know I've had to accept fees way below what I would have considered acceptable years ago.  But it's a different game today.

To make ends meet in the short term, many workers may accept part-time positions, seek work from temporary agencies, or take jobs below their skill level. But a study by UT Austin sociologist David Pedulla,  shows that some of these employment situations could be penalizing when applying for jobs in the future.

 We’ve learned a lot about how unemployment affects workers’ future employment opportunities,” says Pedulla, who is also a research associate of the university’s Population Research Center, at “Even though millions of workers are employed in part-time positions, through temporary agencies and at jobs below their skill level, less attention has been paid to how these types of employment situations influence workers’ future hiring outcomes.”

The study found that about 5 percent of men and women working below their skill level received a “callback,” or positive employer response — about half the callback rate for workers in full-time jobs at their skill level. Similarly, less than 5 percent of men working part time received callbacks. However, part-time employment had no negative effect for women, and temporary agency employment had little effect for either gender.

 “The study offers compelling evidence that taking a job below one’s skill level is quite penalizing, regardless of one’s gender. Additionally, part-time work severely hurts the job prospects of men,” Pedulla said. “These findings raise important additional questions about why employers are less likely to hire workers with these employment histories.”

And here's why. Study results indicated that men in part-time positions were penalized, in part, for appearing less committed, and men employed below their skill level were penalized for appearing less committed and less competent. Women employed below their skill level were penalized for appearing less competent, but not less committed.

So is doing this always a problem?  If you want to keep a roof over your head, sometimes you don't have a choice.  


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