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告别不充分就业,迎接职场大转折

Anne Fisher 2011年11月01日

读者们和我们分享了他们的经历,他们有些人以退为进,有些人甚至打过临时工,结果却出人意料地迎来了职业发展道路上的惊喜。让我们一起学习一下吧!

    不充分就业是指在工作中高能低就或未能获得全职工作而被迫从事兼职的情况。不充分就业问题并没有像完全失业那样获得足够的关注,但不可否认的是,它已经成为亟待解决的社会问题:据劳工统计局(The Bureau of Labor Statistics)报道,目前,作为一时的权宜之计,美国近930万希望获得全职工作的劳动人口被迫投身兼职领域;这一数字与2007年(经济危机出现前)相比增长了近一倍。

    并且,很多人在事业起步之前就陷入了不充分就业的境地:据调查,在2009及2010年两年内,共有40%的应届大学毕业生所从事的工作并不需要大学文凭。

    即便如此,不充分就业问题并不会成为永远迈步过去的坎。在这里,我要感谢所有读者,感谢你们对我近期的一项调查做出了回应,并通过邮件与我分享了大家成功摆脱事业困境的故事。我们通过分析发现,所有故事都离不开两条主线:利用临时工作为踏板,最终获得一份稳定的工作,通过降格以求获得学习的机会,掌握全新的职业技能。

    比尔•德里斯科尔现任罗伯特哈夫国际公司(Robert Half International)地区总监一职,该公司专门从事为会计和金融领域输送临时和正式职员的服务工作。比尔是第一个承认临时工作“是摧毁一个人职业斗志的主要杀手”。然而,他补充说,“每一份工作都是一次机会,即使它并不是我们梦寐以求的理想职业。这样的机会不仅能够展示我们已经掌握的技能,学习新的技能,还能够拓展人际关系。将临时合同工身份转变成“正式”雇员身份的例子不胜枚举。确实有很多人都做到了。”

    下面的例子就是最好的证明:妮可•怀特曾在加利福尼亚州带领20人的团队负责为非盈利组织筹款。之后,她因丈夫的军事调动,辞掉这份全职工作,搬到了佛罗里达州。然而,在那里她没能找到类似的岗位,所以签约了一家临时工中介公司。后来,她被分配到一家银行做客户服务工作,每小时只拿9美元的薪水,没有任何福利,而且一个星期需要工作30个小时。

    然而,她的管理能力在这里毫无用武之地,她说:“我每天要花四五个小时接听电话,还要帮助那些不会操作电脑的客户办理转账业务。”即便这样,她仍然全力以赴。几个月后,她的付出得到了回报。今年三月,怀特得到当地政府经济开发部门提供的一份工作。“薪水和福利与我之前在加利福尼亚州时不相上下。”

    怀特所不知道的是,这家银行的一位高级经理同时也是这个政府机构的董事会成员(现为董事会主席),而且颇有影响力;他一直关注怀特在银行作为客服代表时的工作表现,对怀特印象深刻。后来,正是他通知怀特参加了这个机构的面试。

    “永远不要低估良好工作表现所具备的力量,因为说不定什么时候就会被别人注意到,”怀特说。

    部分读者反映,他们曾自愿放低身段,降低待遇,以便完成事业的华丽蜕变。“过去30年里,这样的经历不止一次地发生在我身上,”迈克•费雷德里克写道。最近的一次经历发生在2007年,当时,他所领导的部门遭遇淘汰。之后,他拒绝了几次晋升的机会,跑到公司创办的企业大学里干起了一份低薪工作。

    他回忆说:“当时,没人能够保证我还能重新进入与之前部门水平相当的管理层。”不仅如此,新的职位要求员工具备相关的IT技能,而这正是费雷德里克所缺少的。“需要学习的东西太多了,并且成功的胜算非常渺茫,这让我非常气馁,”。即使是这样,公司还是替他为需要学习的一系列课程买了单。“没有什么比不花一分钱就可以进修一项全新职业更具有吸引力了。对我来说,这样的机会不容错过。”

    三年的时间很快过去了。“经过许多个挑灯夜战的漫漫长夜,以及努力将所学到的知识运用到白天的工作中,”费雷德里克表示,现在的IT培训部管理职位“正是我之前梦寐以求的”。

    从这些经历中,他学会了“以退为进,选择低职位来过渡也许是一个人最终取得成功的最佳途径。”费雷德里克建议道:“调查一下,看看企业是否愿意针对你的情况提供相应的培训,或者为你需要学习的大学课程买单。大胆向公司咨询一下。只要制定了计划,就不要打退堂鼓。把精力集中在达成目标的可能性上。”

    与其他任何一项挑战一样,有时摆脱不充分就业的困境所需要的仅仅是坚持而已。“我曾在一家经纪公司担任行政助理一职,待遇不错。2008年,我的上司遭到解雇,我也被迫离职了,”希拉•马克森写道。“之后差不多两年时间里,我终日徘徊在街头,试图找到一份工作。为了支付房租,我不得不在晚上到餐厅做服务生。现在,终于苦尽甘来,我在一家保险公司谋得一份差事,待遇甚至比之前那份工作更好。”

    “现在的经济情况确实令人沮丧,”她补充说,“但这并不是最糟糕的。选择放弃才是最严重的错误,我们每个人都可能会犯这种错。”

    或者,就像比尔•德里斯科所说的那样:“永远不要放弃寻找理想工作的努力。”无论目前你是否处于不充分就业的状态,这都是个明智的建议。

    反馈:你是否有过打破未充分就业魔咒的经历?你是靠什么来摆脱这种不利局面的?欢迎留言评论。

    译者:李淑玉/汪皓

    Underemployment -- defined as doing a job for which one is overqualified, or involuntarily working part-time instead of full-time -- gets less attention than outright unemployment, but there's no denying it's a problem: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 9.3 million Americans who want to find full-time jobs are doing part-time work as a stopgap, double the number who did so in (pre-recession) 2007.

    Some people find themselves underemployed before their careers have even gotten off the ground: In 2009 and 2010, one survey found, 40% of new college grads took jobs that don't require a college degree.

    Yet it seems that underemployment needn't be a permanent setback. Many thanks to everyone who responded to my recent query. Among those who emailed their stories, two main threads emerged: Using temporary work as a steppingstone to a permanent position, and treating a step down as a chance to learn a new career.

    Bill Driscoll, a district president at accounting and finance staffing firm Robert Half International, is the first to admit that temping "can be a major morale killer." But, he adds, "Every job is an opportunity, even if it isn't your dream job. It's a chance to showcase your skills, gain new ones, and grow your network. We do see lots of people turning contract assignments into 'real' jobs. It does happen."

    A case in point: Nicole White, who quit a full-time job in California where she managed a team of 20 employees doing fundraising for nonprofits, and moved to Florida when the military relocated her husband there. White could not find a position like the one she left, so she signed on with a temp agency and took a $9-an-hour, no-benefits, 30-hours-a-week customer service assignment at a bank.

    The work didn't require her management skills: "I was answering phones for four or five hours a day and transferring money for people who couldn't use a computer." Still, she put her best effort into it. Several months later, her efforts paid off. Last March, White was hired by her county's economic development office, "with salary and benefits at the level I was used to in California."

    Unbeknownst to White, a senior manager at the bank was also an influential board member at the county agency (and now chairs it) and was impressed by her performance as a customer service rep and called her in for an interview.

    "Never underestimate the power of good work in any position you are offered," says White. "You never know who is looking on."

    Some readers report they've deliberately taken a step down in status and pay in order to move their careers in a different direction. "I've done it more than once over the past 30 years," writes Mike Frederick. Most recently, in 2007, when his department was eliminated, he turned down a couple of promotions to take a lower-paying staff job in his employer's corporate university.

    "No one could promise me I'd ever get back to my previous level of management in that department," he recalls. Not only that, but the job called for tech skills that Frederick lacked. "I had a lot to learn and the odds against my success seemed daunting," he recalls. Even so, his employer funded a series of courses he needed to take: "What clinched it was the chance to learn a new career at no expense to me."

    Fast-forward three years and, "after many long nights of studying on my own and hard work during the day applying what I learned", Frederick is "at the point where I wanted to be," he writes: In a management position in an IT training department.

    What the experience taught him, he says, is that "taking a step down may be your best bet for ultimate success." Frederick's advice: "Find out if your company is willing to provide the training you need or will pay for college courses. Don't be afraid to ask and, after you make the move, don't look back. Focus on the possibilities ahead of you."

    As with any other challenge, getting past underemployment is sometimes a matter of sheer persistence. "I got bounced out of a great executive-assistant position at a brokerage firm when my boss got laid off in 2008," writes Sheila Markson. "It took almost two years of pounding the pavement by day and waiting tables at night just to pay the rent, but I now have an even better job at an insurance company.

    "This economy is discouraging," she adds, "but the worst mistake anyone can make is to give up."

    Or, as Bill Driscoll puts it: "Never stop looking for the job you really want." That's wise counsel whether you're currently underemployed or not.

    Talkback: Have you ever bounced back from a spell of underemployment? What worked for you? Leave a comment below.

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