FranklinIs Connected



By Matt Lowney


While the national unemployment rate hovers around 4.6% and the stock market sets record highs, many people are starting to look at their personal career situation. Employees are starting to consider themselves underemployed, and while this group does not register on national unemployment statistics, they are definitely not satisfied with their current work situations. How many waiters and administrative assistants do you know that hold an associates or bachelors degree? Unfortunately most of us know someone that falls into this category. Why are these educated people accepting these types of positions?  The simple answer is that they can’t find a job in their area of study.   


A record number of the American population holds an advanced degree. Unless your degree is in a high demand field like nursing or education, then you will probably struggle to find a job that utilizes your degree. As a result, the competition for degree holding candidates is stiff and wages are low. From an employer’s perspective it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. They will pay the lowest wage they can to fill their openings. What then can you do to improve your employment prospects if you are underemployed?


Evaluate your current skill set. Try to look at your skills the same way an employer would. Would you hire you? Look at online job boards for positions you would like to pursue. Which skills do you lack for these jobs? This process is a great way to learn about the job market and about yourself. Once you know figure out where you need to improve, work to learn these skills, either at your current job or on your own. Many companies offer online learning courses or tuition reimbursement. While you might not be able to learn these skills overnight, you can put together a plan to find a position that best utilizes your skills. Your next employer will be very impressed by your initiative and the seriousness with which you approach your career. 


What are your strengths/ weaknesses? Most people know where their true technical skills lie, but what about your “soft skills”? Do you work well with others? Do others look to you as a leader? These skills are difficult to assess, as most people tend to over-estimate their non-measurable abilities. As a result you should involve a spouse or close friend for a fair evaluation. There are a number of tools to help improve your people skills, but being aware is the biggest step to self-improvement.


Increase your value to employers. These days, employers are looking to get the most bang for their employee buck. Proving your overall value to a new employer is an absolute necessity. How do you do this? Make sure that you highlight special projects you’ve worked on or how you’ve improved the bottom line for your previous employers. Proof is key. If you say you were directly responsible for saving the company $100,000 in operating costs, then make sure you have documentation. 


Matt Lowney is a Nashville, Tenn based recruiter, career consultant, and co-host of Career Talk, a weekly one hour career advice radio talk show that airs from 5 to 6 pm each Friday on WAKM 950. For more information he can be reached at