Employment isn’t as simple as ‘employed’ versus ‘unemployed’. In the middle, there’s a large portion of people who suffer from ‘under-employment’. They’re the ones who didn’t watch Carte Blanche on Sunday because they can’t afford DSTV; the ones who still use a Nokia 3310; the ones whose closest thing to a facial is falling face-first into a muddy pothole.

We joke. Under-employment is much more serious than that. But what exactly is it?

Definition & Causes

Under-employment is an employment situation that is insufficient for a worker’s: 1) skills; 2) available working hours; and/or 3) financial needs. And the recession is one of the main causes. Businesses have been forced to make decisions that have left employees grabbing the quickest available job opportunities, regardless of whether it offers enough.

The Bigger Picture

Under-employment can have real world problems and the under-utilisation of an individual’s skills is just the beginning. Under-employment means that the country suffers from an under-use of economic capacity… A financial strain that only breeds more under-employment and unemployment.

Get the Job Anyway

Getting your ‘dream job’ is a luxury for many. Often, the first priority is paying the bills. But it doesn’t have to be like that forever. As Jim Carrey said, ‘You can fail at something you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.’ And you’ll never get there if you don’t at least try, right?

Here are four tips to get you going in the right direction:

1.Plan Ahead

If you have a vision of what you want to do, you need to start planning. Get the right training for your desired field and set goals for yourself.

2.The Right People

Surrounding yourself with the right people – people who support your goals and want to help you achieve them – is a valuable practice. A mentor will help too; someone who can show you the ropes and guide you along the way.

3.Offer Free Stuff

When you apply for the job, don’t just send in your CV. Show them how you can add value by offering them a free piece of work. Maybe even offer them a free trial period (if you can afford it) before they decide if they want to hire you. This is a win-win, because even if they don’t hire you, you’ll get great on-the-job experience that will help you for the next one.

4.Who You Know####

You know the famous adage: ‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.’ Well, this is especially true for you – particularly since what you know clearly isn’t serving you. Even if you don’t know the decision-makers yet, find their contact details and ask them for advice on how to get into the field. If they like you, they might create a position for you.

You don’t have to be under-employed forever – sometimes it’s just a stepping stone to getting the job you really want.