New Pandemic Job Paradigm: Why It's OK to Take a Job You're Overqualified For

As unemployment continues to climb during the COVID-19 pandemic, consider applying for a job you’re overqualified for. Sectors that are hiring during the pandemic include supermarkets, shipping and deliveries, online learning, and video conferencing companies. Also hiring: working parents now faced with kids at home who need both teachers and caregivers.

New Pandemic Jobs

In some cases, holding out for your dream job can pay off. One high level manager resisted taking a seemingly good job paying $60,000 a year even though he had been out of work for months. Just a few weeks later, he was offered a job that came with an annual salary of $120,000.

But that was pre-COVID-19. These days, you’d likely be better off to take the job in the hand instead of waiting for a better job to shake out of the bushes.

New position can be a steppingstone to a better job

Even if your previous jobs have been suit-and-tie positions and the opening involves a drab uniform, set your pride aside and take a job that’s not your dream position.

Instead of a dead end, consider a less-than-ideal job as a steppingstone to your next position. Figure out ways you can come out the other end of this crisis better off. If you focus on the job as a steppingstone, you’ll be more likely to give that position your best effort. You may even be able to move into a more suitable job at the same company.

Sometimes your employer won’t see your value

Brace yourself, though, to be pigeon-holed at whatever position you were hired for. One worker took an entry level position in shipping he was vastly overqualified for. He did all the right things: he mastered his position and always asked for the opportunity to apply whenever roles he was qualified for opened up in marketing and management.

Sadly, the company saw him only as someone who could drive a forklift and move pallets of food. Eventually, the worker took his skills to another company.

Set your priorities

Know what you want. Even during high unemployment, you should create a list of requirements for any job you take. These requirements might include: opportunities for job growth, a good boss or mentor, challenges, stability, excellent health insurance, flexible hours, telecommuting, free university classes, or onsite daycare.

How many of those requirements you’re willing to give up in the current job market is up to you.

Deliver excellent work

If you do take a job you’re overqualified for, don’t slack off just because the job is easy. Even though you can do the job in your sleep, don’t try it. Make sure you master your responsibilities and consistently deliver excellent work.

Focus on what you can learn, even in a seemingly mindless position. Perhaps you’re working in a new industry—consider what opportunities might be available after the pandemic ends.

Learn what you can about the culture, products, services, customers, supply chain, and business processes in your new field. Whether you return to your previous field or decide to stay, you’ll have fresh ideas and insight.

Expand your non-work horizons

Give yourself outlets outside of work such as chess, music, art, volunteering, and exercising. Hint: playing games on the computer and watching television don’t count.

Keep your sense of humor

Going to work in a job you’re overqualified for can become draining if you let it. But you’re better than that. If you’re filing paper documents in an office where you know you could perform everyone else’s jobs better than they do—including the boss’s—don’t fume. Make the job into a game and keep your sanity.

Leave the job at work

One advantage of a non-management job is that you can leave the job at work. When you close the door to go home, allow yourself five minutes to vent in your car. Then set the job aside and get ready for your life after work.

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