Adventures of Job Hunting While Being Underemployed

Employed with minimum wage? Cannot afford an apartment, bills, student loans or health insurance? You are not alone.

Being underemployed is just as bad as being unemployed. Do not let anyone fool you, do not let anyone say “at least it is something” or “at least you are getting a paycheck” to you because no, that paycheck and that work time is taking away from getting a real job. It is taking away from availability to search for jobs and go to interviews. It is taking your present and postponing your future.

What about that paycheck? Yes, I know, it pays some of the bills depending if you are lucky enough to get more than “minimum wage,” but if you do not own your own home you must find a living situation. If you are luckBenny Frankliny you can live with family. While that is not ideal for many, it is something. If you must pay for an apartment, good luck. It is not easy. The cost for apartments is rising, and many rental agencies and landlords requiring more income to rent, it is even more difficult.

Minimum wage is take-home less than $1000 a month for me. Yeah, I know, it sounds like a lot of money, but considering the cost of renting an apartment is between $600 and $700 a month in many places, and rent for an apartment is over $1,000 on average nationally. That does not leave much. I recently applied for an efficiency apartment which was a steal at $550 a month. I, of course, was laughed out of the office for not making enough money to afford it. Back to the motel for me

It is a different world we live in than previous generations in the U.S. It is a different culture of employers, the employees, and the unemployed. It is a strange, dark world all around.

I was unemployed for quite sometime before now. Now I am underemployed, but for over one and a half years I lived off friends, family, and some left-over student loan money. No, I was not lazy while being unemployed. I worked hard to find a job. I looked and applied during that time. In fact, I applied for at least three jobs a day making calls and traveling hundreds of miles or more weekly. No, I did not sit on my ass and collect unemployment. In fact, the state I lived in would only provide six months of unemployment, and the job assistance people at the unemployment office told me “Why don’t you move out of state?” True story. I was not a lazy unemployed man. For almost two years I applied for positions and traveled to seek employment with many different companies.

After almost two years of unemployment, I found a small company willing to hire me at minimum wage. That minimum wage job was car sales. No advancement and only the occasional commission check. Why only occasional? Oh, just so you know, it is a requirement for automotive sales agents who have no mechanical background to know about the quality of that used car to pay a percentage of the automotive repairs. That is right. I pay to fix your junk car you just bought from me. Oh well.

Underemployment is a huge issue in the United States. Many people are underemployed and work hard night and day to find something better. About half of college graduates are underemployed and going up in a company is done on a ladder with many broken or nonexistent rungs. It is not for the lack of trying. This applies to many different degree holders and to people with many different ideal jobs. One of those is the adjunct professor. No matter the course they teach, they are underemployed, underpaid, and often are on government assistance including food stamps. No, this is not temporary. No, this does not apply to specific subjects. There is no temp-to-hire situation in education. Educators are being hired permanently at low wages as adjunct professors with tuition rates going up and up higher at college campuses around the United States.

For now, that is how it is to be for most of us. I know more people with only high school diplomas making more than those I know with college degrees. For those working these low paying jobs, it is difficult to find the time to look for good work. The biggest problem is after sending out resumes and making phone calls is getting a job interview. If I get one, then I need to take time off work and make even less in my next pay check.

Everyday on the job hunt while underemployed is a long day of work. Taking time off for a job search is the risk and the gamble of the underemployed. I rarely get a job interview, but recently I was able to schedule three in a week.

I took a couple days off work and traveled to them. It was a long trip because that is what you need to do if you cannot find work near the place you sleep. It was is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It did not end well. Apparently a man with a masters degree cannot be hired at this company in that position, and even more so cannot be hired because he does not currently live in the area. I protested and explained I could move anytime. It was not enough. I did not get the job.

The next job interview was a couple of hours from Pittsburgh. Luckily I had GPS. The interview went well, but they for some reason could not tell me too much about the job or the pay. It was all hush-hush for some reason. In the end, I would not mind it, however, with the hush-hush on the job information, I had a feeling the pay would not be worth my time.

The third job was closer to home, so it would be easier to move to work at this job. It was a small company working in their shipping department. I knew I was overqualified, but I thought I would apply and interview in case the pay was good. After going through the interview they finally were able to tell me the pay. It was just a bit over minimum wage. So, pay was not worth it, and I was definitely “overqualified.” I thanked them and left.

All of these interviews were for positions for which I was overqualified. The location of the place I slept was also an issue for them. Apparently, in this day of unemployment and underemployment, where one lives is a big deal even if relocation is not a problem. I did not get the jobs. This happens. The term “overqualified” is thrown around frequently, and it is as a common reason to not be hired. Companies often have residency requirement when hiring for their positions. Why did they even request an interview with me if they knew of all this information prior to the interview from my resume?

I wondered why I was denied a position for a reason the companies were aware of prior to my interview. I went to a career counselor a couple months back and explained my situations to her. I told her of the several instances where I was denied work for having a college degree from a northern state. I told her I was denied employment for being overqualified and living too far from the place of work. I did not get a good, clear answer. She laughed and told me “no such thing, if a company wants to hire you they will.” I told her I disagreed based on my experience. She denied that businesses considered these factors when hiring people. Obviously, from my real-world experience, I thought I had some good points. I knew one of us was incorrect. Apparently I was wrong because she is the “expert.”

Oh, well. For now, that is how it will be. I will keep pushing as should all. For now, it is back to work. Back to underemployment selling cars. Back to not being able to get an apartment, a vehicle, clothing, and insurance. Back to applying for jobs between car sales. Back to paying for the repairs of the cars I sell. Back to wondering why I went to college. Back to complaining on the internet. Back to asking you: “Will you hire this mediocre writer? This computer nerd with a love for travel? This educated fool with a desire and passion for writing and the truth?” If not. I understand. Grumble, grumble, complain complain. Gosh. I complain a lot. Tweet me at @TheMushandMilk if you do that tweet thing.


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