Underemployed and Underpaid
Two weeks ago, Michael Cooper of The New York Times, wrote about the difficulties faced by those who are employed, but not making enough to sustain themselves or their families in his article entitled “Lost in Recession, Toll on Underemployed and Underpaid.”
The article raised an important point about the vulnerability of workers who have jobs that are not offering a full 30-35 hour workweek. I wanted to share some advice if you, or someone in your close network, finds themselves with reduced hours.
1. Be Flexible: Consider taking on unpopular shifts or making it known to your co-workers that you are looking to take on greater hours in case they are out sick or on vacation.
If you’ve typically taken Saturday off for family or social reasons, consider amending your availability. Also, if your employer has multiple locations, indicate that you’re willing to work at more than one location, if it means a fuller schedule.
2. Be Creative: Do not pigeon-hole yourself into your current responsibility set.
Think outside of your job description. Ask your boss—or even your company’s owner (if it’s a small business)—if there are additional responsibilities you could take on a few hours a week. This can be an especially smart strategy if you have specific skills that your current position doesn’t take advantage of, but you think the company could use. Sell your boss or the company’s owner on how paying you a few extra hours could increase business. Also, ask for training or an opportunity to build your skills in areas within the firm that seem to be busy and aligned with your skills and interests. Showing your boss that you are ambitious and willing to learn new skills are both positive signs of a good employee.
3. Be a Superstar: Go above and beyond.
Employers often cut everybody’s hours in lieu of laying off a small number of employees. That saves a few jobs, but it hurts everybody’s budgets. That means you must do excellent work, show enthusiasm, and go above and beyond. If you stand out among your peers at work, you’ll be first in line when hours come back.
4. Be Persistent. The squeaky wheel often does get the grease.
Never assume that your boss knows you want more hours. Believe it or not, she may just assume that if nobody says anything, everybody’s okay with the cutbacks. Tell your boss regularly that you’re looking for extra hours. Do it every week; don’t be a nag, but slide it into conversation whenever you can.
Angie Kamath, who oversees Workforce1 as the Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development at the NYC Department of Small Business Services, shares her perspective on Workforce1 and the New York City job market in her weekly Jobs in New York City column.
Have a response to Angie’s column? Drop her a note in the comment section below! And, if you found this helpful, please share it with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email!