4 Steps to Escape Underemployment
Underemployment is a large problem. It not only affects an individual's well-being, it also has a lasting impact on our economy in the form of unused capacity.
Underemployment is a situation in which a worker is employed, but not in the desired capacity, whether in terms of compensation, hours, or level of skill and experience.
According to a report in The Atlantic, 53.6% of college graduates under 25 are doing work they could have done without college or are unemployed.
I hold a belief that a contributing factor to underemployment is an inability on the part of the individual to promote (or dare I say, sell) oneself. I am a believer that we control our own destiny and if we are not where we desire we must first look in the mirror.
I recently found an opportunity to put my belief to the test.
I received a call from a friend about 5 months ago. She wanted a change and looked to me for advice. Upon graduating from University 15 years ago she accepted the first job that she was offered. The economy was not the best at the time so she accepted a job doing tasks that she was over qualified for in a call center. She clawed her way up in the company and managed to get into more meaningful work. But, still the work was not in line with what she was educated in nor what she desired to be doing - Human Resource Management. She was underemployed.
I met her for coffee.
STEP 1: DEFINE
First off I noticed that she was coming at things from the wrong angle. In response to my question of "what's up?" she replied that "no one wants to give me a job in human resource management". I then offered her Step 1.
Define very clearly the type of job you desire. Come from the perspective of what value you will bring, not what the company will give you. Your rewards in life will be in direct proportion to the amount of service and value you provide.
STEP 2: SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE MASSES
I then asked her what she knew about Human Resource Management and about her unique opinions, beliefs and perspectives. Her responses were mostly generic text book responses. I then shared Step 2.
Become a student of your profession or desired profession. Form educated opinions and beliefs about what it takes for you and your company to be successful in the field. These opinions and beliefs will distinguish you above other candidates vying for the same job. When a prospective employer asks you a question about something specific you will likely be able to string together a unique response that will set up apart from the masses.
STEP 3: PROMOTE
I then asked her about her self-promotion. We looked at her LinkedIn profile. It was incomplete and was written from the perspective of what she desired in a job. She was mainly using LinkedIn as a means to connect with people at the same level in the socio-economic pyramid we all live in - people who she was associating with on a daily basis. She was not sharing anything about her field of interest. Therefore, she was not growing her brand. She was not sowing. Therefore, she was not reaping. This brought me to Step 3.
Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to declare your value proposition to the world. It should be 100% complete. Write your profile from the perspective of the value you bring to your job and your company or prospective company. This includes your Headline and Profile. In the process of doing Step 2 above you should be coming across industry research and articles. Some of them will resonate with you. You should share these articles with your network on LinkedIn. Add commentary to the "share" so that people in your network know you have an opinion. Start using the LinkedIn publishing feature as a means to write about your field and engage your network. There is a significant viral element to LinkedIn publishing. Your articles are shared with your network along with the networks of the people who like and comment on your articles.
STEP 4: NETWORK
Most of the jobs she had applied for were advertised positions. She was basically scanning career web sites and sending her resume in response to advertised jobs.
Using LinkedIn, research companies that you would like to work for. Find out who their CEO, CFO, CIO etc.. are. Find out who the various Directors and Managers are. With a knowledge of your field of interest and organizational structures it should be relatively easy to find out who you need to be connected with in order to be seen by the right people. Take a look at your existing network to determine if any of your connections are linked to these individuals. Ask for a warm intro. Warm intros are far more effective than cold. If a cold intro is a last resort, personalize it. Research the person. Perhaps they have written articles online that you can reference in your invite. Perhaps they graduated from the same university and/or program. By personalizing the invite you have a far greater chance of them accepting it.
Get out of the building. The chances of something happening if you are simply reacting to opportunities is slim. You need to become proactive. Get out of the building and put yourself in front of new people. Attend networking events - association events, board of trade lunches, breakfast clubs etc... It may not be comfortable at first. But, it is a necessary step. Add EVERYONE you meet as a contact on LinkedIn!
With these 4 steps you are creating your platform.
Is this an over night process? No.
You need to commit to the steps.
What inspired me to write this article?
I got a call today from my friend. She was beaming with happiness. After 5 months of following the steps, she received a job offer as a Human Resources Coordinator with an Oil and Gas company expanding in our City.
I told her that I put a name on the 4 steps - Social Selling You.