Should You Lower Your Standards During a Long Job Hunt?

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A long job search can be emotionally and financially devastating. It's understandable that you don't want to lower your expectations or standards, but after many months of unemployment, you may wonder when it's time to do just that. Should you take a step down, and what might that mean for your future? Here's a guide to help you consider the three situations in which you may want to take a lesser position.

When You Are Changing Fields or Careers

If you're making a big change of career or you're changing the field you work in, you may have to lower your expectations regarding pay or title. In some fields, you may be able to make a lateral move, but many fields require a level of specialization that will require you to take the time to learn what you don't know. For instance, if you have a strong background in marketing clothing, that may not translate well to marketing pharmaceuticals. If you decide to make a mid-life career change from, for example, sales to law, you will have to start from scratch in terms of education and training. Lower your expectations right away, and develop a realistic outlook on how long your transition is likely to take.

When You Desperately Need the Money

In a tough economy, many people are forced to take jobs they would prefer to turn down simply out of financial necessity. Don't allow yourself to fall into debt just because you refuse to lower your expectations regarding yourself and your career. Learn from any mistakes you've made in the past. Take the job you need to take to be able to pay for necessities without feeling any sense of shame. Many accomplished and well-educated people find themselves out of work for extended periods when the economy is waiting to rebound, and it is more honorable to lower your expectations and take a job that keeps you afloat than to put your family at risk. Sometimes the only option available is the best option.

When You Want to Break a Period of Unemployment

Because work begets work, it's always easier to find a job when you're employed, even if you're working outside the field where you would rather work. A long job search can be humbling, but having any income and a place to go gives you a level of confidence as you renew your hunt for the right position. Because employers tend to hire candidates who are already employed, sometimes taking a lesser position just to be able to say you're employed makes you automatically more marketable. Look at your career with long-range vision, and see how a lesser position now might open doors for the job you really want in the future.

Before you lower your standards and agree to take a lesser position, ponder what that step really means to you in terms of your emotions and your self-image. Your path to your ideal position may be temporarily blocked, but you can find a way around it. Likewise, don't refuse to lower your expectations and say no to lesser positions automatically; set your ego aside, and think carefully to make wise choices.


Photo courtesy of mrpuen at



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  • Chad Eagle
    Chad Eagle

    For a veteran just a few months out of military retirement, it is very frustrating! Very hard to be unable to find any work at a level of responsibility you were accustomed to, or a pay level similar to what you had.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Patricia I feel your pain. It is hard to find a job at any age but seems to get harder the older we get. But don't give up heart. Keep applying. Change up your strategy. Maybe go in a different career direction. Do the best you can to make your resume as "young" as possible and then sell yourself in the interview. I wish you all the best.

  • patricia h.
    patricia h.

    Out Of job! Very hard to find a job at 63

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