Should You “Apply Down” for Jobs?

aleesa-0509The ups and downs of a fallback position.

With a finance degree and five solid years as a financial analyst, Tamara did not picture herself working as a restaurant server again. “Times are tough right now, you do what you have to do in order to pay the bills,” she says with a shrug.

After her lay-off eight months ago, Tamara knew she had to do something to earn money and pull herself out of the deep depression she was in. Tamara says, “My lifestyle and attitude has changed dramatically by getting out and getting a job.” Although she feels shell-shocked going from $30 per hour to $2.13 per hour, Tamara believes the low paying job is a “bridge” leading from her temporary misfortune to a better position down the road.

Are you in the same boat as Tamara? Consider the example Tamara has made for us and what many other successful and educated professionals are doing these days; working bridge jobs while working to get a better job.

What’s the Downside?

Stating the obvious, Tamara says, “I was told that I was overqualified during several interviews for my current position.” Duncan Mathison, contributor to Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss (FT Press) writes, “The assumption, right or wrong, is that you will be unmotivated, unhappy and leave in a heartbeat if you get a better position. They also assume you won’t like the pay.”

Her advice is to take the interview very seriously despite pay disparities and present a very positive can-do attitude without appearing desperate. If you come across as too desperate, the employer may think you are too distressed to successfully perform simple tasks. The key is to take a proactive and humble approach.

On the Upside

There are many people working jobs for which they are overqualified, however not all of them are miserable with the position. In fact, in many cases it’s just the opposite. “People are taking on bridge jobs because they need work and surprise, surprise — some of these jobs are actually fun,” says Beth Ross, a career coach. “The fulfillment comes from the enjoyment, sometimes the lack of competition around the job, [and] the thrill of trying something new.”

For now, Tamara is content with her job. “I wasn’t above doing something other than my degreed profession. I was extremely tired of looking for work and wanted to take a break from interviewing.” Tamara says, “The rejection was hard to take. I have more time and less stress, for me it’s the upside. It may not be my long-term goal, but it’s money coming in and that’s better than no money at all.”

If you are a victim of a lay-off and you are getting the overqualified speech, consider a bridge job until you find your next career path. Stay open to the possibility of building and growing a brand-new career. Take this opportunity seriously; you never know where it is going to go.

Questions or comments? Participate in this blog by leaving your comments below.

Aleesa Janssen is the Hospitality Staffing Specialist for Workforce Solutions in the Houston/Galveston region. She is a trained chef and has over eleven years of experience in the hospitality industry.

2 Responses to “Should You “Apply Down” for Jobs?”


  1. 1 Suarez Carter November 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I say Tamara is a very strong and positive person because not many people have the mindset to do what she has, and a lot of lay off victims may need this type of encouragement to move on from what has happened and find the road to recovery.

  2. 2 Michelle Tepolt October 14, 2009 at 11:29 am

    The era of the career ladder is long gone, it has been replaced by the helicopter era. It is not likely that someone will get an entry level job with a company and work there until they reach the age of retirement and climb to the top. More often we see people hopping from one job to the next for more money, more opportunity for growth, etc., much like a helicopter lands on one rooftop to the next. The definition of career path has changed for this generation.
    Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Who knows when a new career may blossom? Tamara may find a new path in life for herself. When you align your profession with your passion, the sky is the limit.


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