A person who works at a job below his skill level is perceived as less competent and committed, according to a study from the University of Texas, Austin. For this reason, this person will less likely get hired than someone employed within his skill level, making a job search even more frustrating.

The researchers submitted 2,420 fictitious applications for 1,210 real job openings in five US cities. These applications contained the applicants’ job history including full-time work, part-time work, a temporary help agency position, unemployment or a job below their skill level.

Only five percent of men and women with past history of working at a job that required below their skill level got a response from the employer, half the rate for full-time workers. Less than five percent of the men who worked part-time got callbacks but women did not suffer any negative consequences from their part-time work. Temporary agency employment did not significantly affect both men and women.

Next, UT Austin sociologist David Pedulla surveyed 903 hiring decision-makers about their opinions of each type of employment history. According to them, men in part-time jobs appear less committed and men who hold positions below their skill level both look less committed and competent. However, women who worked below their skill level only appeared less competent but not less committed.


Psychology Today

“The study offers compelling evidence that taking a job below one’s skill level is quite penalising, regardless of one’s gender. Additionally, part-time work severely hurts the job prospects of men,” says Pedulla in a press release. “These findings raise important additional questions about why employers are less likely to hire workers with these employment histories.”

“When it comes to thinking about the opportunities that are available to workers, unemployment is only one piece of the puzzle,” Pedulla asserts. “Men who are in part-time positions, as well as men and women who are in jobs below their skill level, face real challenges in the labour market, challenges that deserve broader discussion and additional attention.”