It’s Not “Just a Paycheck”: The Dangers of Settling for the Wrong Job

When you’re in the throes of a job search, it is easy to apply for anything you think will accept you, and take any job you’re offered. You may start out with standards, but after weeks or months of applying with no response, it’s easy to let those criteria drop and settle for any job that pays.

While many people are apt to shrug and say “It’s just a paycheck!”, settling for the wrong job can actually do you more harm than good. This article will explore the long term impacts of lowering your standards.


1. Becoming Complacent

Technically, it’s not inherently bad to accept a job that is not in conjunction with your long term goals. Sometimes we really need a paycheck, and we have to make short-term sacrifices. The risk here though is that once you have a steady stream of income, you’ll become comfortable and stop pursuing your dreams. Work tires people out, and sometimes it’s hard to make time for “extras” when they’re not aligned with your day-to-day activities. If your goals change, that’s great, but don’t let temporary satisfaction keep you from excelling.

2. Irrelevant Experience

Studies show that once you’ve been unemployed for over 6 months, it gets exponentially harder to obtain a job. But having a job outside your intended industry can make it more difficult to break into your desired field. Employers will wonder why you’re not using the necessary skillset. So always think about how you can explain the usefulness of your work experience in an interview.

3. Starting from Scratch

Whenever you start a new job, especially in a different industry, you lose time. You have to start from the beginning, learn the ropes, and work your way up. This is not bad, it’s just a reality. The more times you change jobs and careers, the more you will have to go through this process. This can be stressful, and can keep you from achieving as much as you would otherwise. The closer you start to your desired goal, the further you can get. So look for jobs that are related to your interests and objectives, and don’t settle for something that you’ll have to learn more about upfront for no long term benefit.

Speaking of benefits, many companies base benefits on tenure. The longer you work, the more likely you can receive paid time off, health and life insurance coverage, and extras like AAMI income protection coverage, disability, and retirement contributions. So if you do have to settle for a job, make sure you’re still on the lookout for open doors to your desired company and/or field.

4. Retirement

Speaking of benefits, changing careers can also affect your ability to retire. “Settling” jobs don’t usually pay as much as dream jobs. This could prevent you from starting a 401(k) or limit you to smaller contributions. If you are able to initiate an account, switching companies can provide some complications and confusion, and you’ll have to be very deliberate in keeping track of your funds and getting them transferred into the correct place.

5. The Reality

Sometimes it’s necessary to take any job that’s offered you. If you end up in a job that you don’t enjoy and doesn’t help you fulfill what you want to in life, you are in danger of all of the points mentioned in this article. This isn’t a death sentence though. You simply have to keep your focus on changing your situation. Keep training yourself for the skills of your desired job. Keep submitting applications and networking. Try to make your current job a learning experience and take everything you can from it. Above everything, don’t let the short term distract you from your long term goals and from saving for retirement.


Do you have any advice for job searchers tempted to settle? Any tips for making the most of jobs that aren’t in your desired field? Share in the comments!


About the Author

Amanda Jensen writes for a living because it’s what she’s always wanted to do. She has had her share of fast food jobs and receptionist positions, but she’s always made sure to write in her spare time and even offer her employers services more in line with her skills. Finally, she’s getting paid to do what she loves, and she wouldn’t change a thing.

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