A wake-up call for the underemployed

DaVida Plummer

The latest employment statistics show that people are finding work—but is it any good?

The unemployment rate for the past two months stood at 6.3 percent, and payrolls rose by 217,000 in May, but numbers do not tell the whole story.

The number of people who can't find a job in their field, who have become discouraged and have stopped beating the pavement or clicking their way through job sites is difficult to measure by all accounts, but the government tries anyway. The "U-6" rate – the unemployed, the underemployed and those who want a job but have stopped looking – stands at a much higher 12.2 percent.

Read MoreWhat's the real unemployment rate?

There are signs of optimism, though. The long-term unemployed appear to be finding their way back into the work force. Those numbers are down to 34.6 percent in May from 35.3 percent in April, according to the Department of Labor.

Most states do not force displaced workers on unemployment to take a job that offers wages that are lower than the wages common for that occupation.

That said, after weeks of searching, many job seekers simply can't afford to be that selective. Many are forced to expand their job searches to lower paying jobs in previously unexplored job sectors.

Career placement companies are taking on the challenge of encouraging job seekers to flip the script and seize a job—previously viewed as below their skill level—as an opportunity to brand and market for a better fit.

"Twenty to 40 people per week apply for positions in our offices and it doesn't matter what they used to do. Our clients, employers, pay us to find support staffers. That's what we do. So, if a former executive comes in looking for a job, they have to face the reality of the situation and be willing to re-invent themselves," said Regis Canning, account representative for Temporary Alternatives in midtown Manhattan.

"Training is dollars and companies don't have to spend that money when the supply of candidates is as large and diverse as it is right now, so take your title off of your resume, highlight your administrative skills, and research newly created businesses, like start-ups and jobs in the green economy and get back out there," he said.