The truth is, you may be stuck in that less-than-ideal job for a while.
Though jobs are being added to the economy, the U.S. unemployment rate is holding strong at almost 10 percent and new jobs are still hard to come by.
Being stuck in a job that is below your skill level and outside of your career path can be as stressful as not being employed at all.
As bad as the job is, however, you may be making it harder on yourself.
Any of these behaviors sound familiar? If so, don't worry. Simple changes to your attitude will get you back on track.
1. Complaining constantly: Let's face it, it feels good to talk about how much you don't like something, so you do. A lot. But pointless complaining can also reinforce negative feelings instead of helping you find a solution.
Instead: Turn your lamenting into solution-oriented conversations. Talking positively about issues can help ease stress and lead you to find ways to make your workdays better.
2. Doing your job badly: To save yourself from the stress of doing what you don't like doing, you may simply slack off or not do it at all. That kind of passive-aggressive rebellion may feel good in the moment, but it will only create resentment toward you, extra work for co-workers and a higher likelihood that you won't have that much-needed job much longer.
Instead: Keep up with your work. Working efficiently and professionally will make you more eligible for a better job when your company expands again.
3. Avoiding company functions: If you're already bummed to be there, why not skip out on group lunch, the weekend retreat or the nonmandatory meeting?
Because being absent sends a message that you are not interested in the company, and that won't win you any favors. You also miss out on valuable time with the boss where you can show your support and petition for a better situation.
Instead: Make it to some company events, even if you attend for only a little while. Be friendly and chat with as many people as possible to boost your reputation and keep you abreast of better opportunities.
4. No longer looking for new employment: It can be discouraging to keep looking for a new job when you're just not getting what you need, so you decide to take a break for a month or two.
Instead: Keep looking for work (not in front of your boss, of course) in a variety of ways. Apply online, send your résumé to friends and family, attend alumni or special interest events -- basically network, network, network.
5. Not enjoying your time off: You just want out of this job, so you devote every second off the clock to looking for a better position. Too bad all work and no play make Jane or Joe Jobseeker very dull indeed.
Instead: Enjoy yourself when you're not at work. A weekend away, a relaxing night with movies or indulging in a hobby can fill your soul while you work to fill your wallet. This will make you more relaxed and give you more energy to face your workweek.
6. Getting fired: As much as you don't want to be doing it, you need this job. If you didn't, you wouldn't still be there.
Instead: Do what you can to keep your job. Show up on time, do the work required of you, don't burn a statue of your boss in effigy. With a firing on your record, it may be difficult or impossible for you to collect unemployment compensation or get another job. You will also lose out on contacts and a good reference.
Being underemployed or stuck in a job that's sucking you dry is difficult. But you can work to make the most of it and make yourself ready for when the right opportunity comes along.