The Needs of Underemployed Candidates

  By Frank Burtnett  |    Wednesday April 26, 2023

Category: Education, Expert Advice, Recruiting


EmInfo Reader: The current world of work appears to have a higher number of self-proclaimed “underemployed” workers. Who are these individuals and how is their approach to job change different from other candidates?


Dr. Burtnett: First, let’s examine the definitions of unemployment and underemployment. The U.S. Department of Labor defines unemployment as individuals who don’t have a job, have actively looked for work, and currently available to work (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.). Search and staffing professionals and recruiters have a long and successful history of placing competent workers in satisfactory positions of employment.

Over the past quarter century or more, certain members of the workforce have come to be identified by a set of characteristics that either they or the world of work would consider underemployment---working, but not enjoying the desired satisfaction and gratification.  Many would argue that their occupational roles misuse or fail to use their knowledge, skillset, and competencies. Others would indicate that the workplace environment limits their ability to perform at a level equal to their capabilities.

Finally, a lack of competitive compensation and benefits or the absence of growth and development opportunities in some places has led many to believe that “worth” is not being properly recognized. One or more of these undesirable circumstances have resulted in employer behaviors like “quiet quitting,” or “working to the rule.” This is often the time when the underemployed individual upgrades their job search and change status from nonexistent to passive or active.

Search and recruiting professionals must serve the underemployed just as they would serve any other job seeker or changer who solicits their assistance, but with one very important consideration. Underemployment for many have been a challenge to their mental wellness. Beginning as manageable anxiety and  stress,, it can balloon into outright anger and frustration These are personal issues. External circumstances like the recent  coronavirus pandemic or a volatile economy and workplace can cause their own ranges of emotions concerns. Discovery of candidate work history and the motivation for job change is the first step in the helping process, and if there was ever a time for a little extra TLC---this could be it!

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