by Teri Fritsma

Are you underemployed? You’re not alone.

According to February’s estimates, about 14.8 percent of Americans were categorized as either un– or underemployed.  (This definition includes people who are marginally attached to the labor force or are working part-time when they’d rather be working full-time).  

If this is you (or even if it isn’t) here are 5 ways to spend your time.

Do some old-fashioned soul-searching about your career. Ask yourself what you really want to do. What’s your passion? What activities do you love so much that you lose track of time when you’re doing them? Now ask yourself: does your job let you do those things? Does it have the potential to? Or have you always dreamed of doing something else? It may sound impractical given the state of the economy, but now may be an ideal time to figure out what you’d have to do to qualify for your dream job.

Read a biography about someone you admire. I just finished Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama, and was surprised to read about the ways he struggled in his early years as a community organizer. Reading about his failings reminded me that everyone must experience difficulty at some point or another on the way to becoming great. This is, in my opinion, a more interesting and creative form of self-help than an actual self-help book.

Take a self-assessment. There are lots of assessments out there, but why not start with ISEEK’s free skills assessment? Not only can this give you ideas about what careers match your skill sets, but just going through the process will help you articulate what it is you’re good at and where your deficiencies are. When you’re done with ISEEK’s assessment, try O*NET’s free career exploration tools, which can give you insight on how your skills, abilities, and interests match up with different careers.

Take an online class or two. An up-in-the-air schedule is perfect for online training, because you don’t have to attend classes on any set day. Take an online class to upgrade your skills, dip your toe in the water of a new career, or to learn about something completely unrelated to work.

Network. I am not a fan of this term (it sounds sterile and calculating). Still,
the conventional wisdom is that it’s better to reach out to friends, family, acquaintances, or other contacts while you’re still employed and don’t need something from them. And don’t forget to join LinkedIn.

2 thoughts on “Underemployed? Here are 5 ways to spend your extra time.

  1. Hi Oriane,

    If you’re interested in taking online classes, I’d really recommend checking out ISEEK’s education search tool here:

    The fourth option down lets you “browse online programs.” You can select the college you want to attend, the topic you want to study, and the degree you’d like to earn.

    Most online courses do cost money, and the costs vary a lot. If you use ISEEK’s search tool, the cost info should appear in your results. (If not, there’s contact information provided so you can call or email the school to find out.)

    Finally, if you just want some general information about taking online classes, check out our online learning section here:

    Good luck!


  2. I liked this one a lot Teri. I’ve got some questions…were can I find on line classes to take and do they cost money?


Comments are closed.