It is estimated that somewhere between 40 and 50% of American workers are not satisfied with their job. Are you in that group? Not sure? Consider how you would answer this question.  

It’s Monday morning (or whichever day you work) and the alarm goes off – how excited are you to spring out of bed and head into the office?  

a. I can’t wait – I don’t need an alarm!

b. I like my job, but my boss is a pain.

c. Why get up? I could do this job in my sleep!

d. I like my job, but I have not had a raise in years.

e. I am calling in sick.

If you answered (a), it sounds like your job is a great fit – congratulations! If you answered any of the other ways, read on.  

Signs That You Are Underemployed

Underemployment is a term that refers to having a job that does not utilize your experience, education, skills and abilities. Sometimes it is a conscious choice by the employee to take a position of this nature. Frustration occurs when either the underemployment happens over time or is the result of being misled in the job description. Here are some of the signs:

• You are not making a fair salary for the position.

• You are overqualified and not challenged.

• There is no place for growth.

• You need a second job to make ends meet.

• You are making lateral moves over and over.

What to Do?

The first step is to recognize and take an honest assessment of the situation. Were you promised more when you were hired? Do you have a realistic perspective about your skill level? What exactly is not fulfilling about your job? Is the job ok, but you don’t like the company or your boss? The answers to these questions will give you a starting point to begin to make changes.

Do Your Research

If you like your job but don’t feel you are paid enough, do your research before addressing a raise with your boss. There are websites like O-net, PayScale and, which list the salary ranges by job title and geographic area. Most have wide ranges depending on your education and experience. But if you are way below the range for your area, that is cause for concern. Once you have the data, you can have a conversation with your boss and see what insight they can provide.

If you are unfulfilled, do you have the skills to move to a more fulfilling job? If you do, this is another opportunity to do your research before talking to your boss. Look at the quantifiable reasons that you deserve to move up in the organization or be given more duties. For example, you have reduced expenses by 10%, improved productivity by 7% or some other measurable data that shows you are ready to move up. Often, when a boss has the data, they can help you.  

Be Prepared

In today’s job market, you should always be prepared with an updated resume and plan for what is next for you whether you stay in your current position or leave. The days of remaining at one company for your whole career are pretty much gone. Do you have a 5-year plan for your career? If not, consider taking time to do so. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Do you need more skills to achieve your goals or find a new position? There are many ways to improve skills through certifications, classes, workshops and education. A plan with clear action steps is essential to move forward.

If you feel a bit overwhelmed or want help with the process, a career coach can also help you assess where you are and help you navigate the path to more fulfillment. In addition, career coaches can help you with a healthy perspective of your skills and talents and can help you improve your interviewing and negotiation skills.  

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