Awaiting better times, white-collar workers look to blue-collar jobs
Some laid-off educated workers are turning to lower-skilled jobs to get by.
Robb Linn will walk your dog or cut your grass. He doesn’t have any professional experience in either canine care or landscaping, but he does have a master’s degree in city and regional planning.Skip to next paragraph
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“I had this bright idea that I would just start throwing out ads on Craigslist for landscaping, gardening, and dog walking” after being laid off from a Sonoma County, Calif., environmental planning firm earlier this year, says Mr. Linn.
As many educated and formerly well-paid workers become restless living on unemployment benefits and frustrated over fruitless job searches, some are opting for lower skilled jobs that pay less but will help cover monthly bills or simply keep them busy.
They’ll baby sit or tutor your kids, fix up a house or tune a car, help staff trade shows that come to town, or cater parties.
“[M]ost of my friends who graduated with me are sitting at home or going to med school or trying to do something else because our sector really isn’t hiring anyone any more,” says Sher Ali Butt, who landed a $42,000 a year job at a Bay Area biotech company soon after graduating from the University of California, Davis last year. When the recession hit, he was among the first to go.
Now, he’s thinking of switching to dentistry. In the meantime, he’s trying to find work tutoring high school and college students in science and trolling Craigslist for temporary gigs working at cocktail parties or unloading produce at weekend farmer’s markets.
“I’m just trying to make ends meet with whatever can be done,” he says.
With unemployment rates up and many industries such as construction, retail, and automotive being decimated, many workers are finding they need to snag any opportunity that presents itself.
It’s especially tough for people who can’t relocate, says Wendy Enelow, author, trainer, and career consultant. “If you can’t relocate or made the decision that you don’t want to relocate, then you are going to have to broaden the type of position [you will accept] because the geography is limited.”
But while some highly skilled workers in a few select industries -- such as in the auto industry -- might be open to lower skilled jobs, most well-paid managers and executives aren’t, she says.
In banking, technology, and healthcare, “people are not willing to go down levels, and levels, and levels,” says Ms. Enelow.