Entitlement is probably the single biggest factor that holds us all back as human beings, not just in the job market. Entitlement is a complete lack of gratitude and responsibility. It gives us delusions of grandeur. It makes us pass up opportunities and pass over people because we think we "deserve" something "better."
We all think we understand that life isn't fair and that nothing is guaranteed, but few of us have truly internalized the idea. Usually, at best, it's a polite way to tell someone you don't care about their problems. Then, when it's your turn for "undeserved" unpleasantry, just observe how much it stings when someone employs the same technique on you.
It's time to let go of entitlement. You are not not and never will be entitled to ANYTHING, not clean air, not clean water, not food, not shelter, not friends, not family, not love, not sex, not companionship, not medical care, not land, not education, not health, and certainly not a decent career. If you are lucky enough to have any or all of these things, at any point in life, any or all of them can disappear. When you cling to entitlement, you suffer even more.
When it comes to finding work, many of us have completely self-fabricated ideas about what we "deserve."
"I went to college, I shouldn't have to work for THIS wage."
"I've been in this industry for 20 years, I shouldn't have to do THAT."
"My friend owns the company, why should I do THIS?"
"THAT is a job for losers."
"I used to THIS for $70k, I'm not doing THAT for $30k."
We've all thought and said these things, but have never stopped to put entitlement into the equation. Why shouldn't you have to do this or that? What makes you so special? Other people are just not as awesome as you, so they should have to do it?
If you want to keep all those other things you're lucky to have but are not entitled to, doing a job that is "below" you might be necessary. Once you let go of entitlement, your constant misery of not getting the job you "deserve" will evaporate with it.
Of course, this isn't to steer people to the opposite. No one is asking you to do anything against your base morals. No one is asking you to prostitute yourself out to the point where you'll do anything for money. You're only being asked to change your perspective. You may have to temporarily take something "below you" to help pay your bills, you can still enjoy it in some way.
If you spend the whole time pissing and moaning about how it's beneath you, how much money you used to make, how you never used to have to do stuff like this, first of all, you're just angering yourself. Second, people notice that attitude in your words, your body language and your quality of work. It makes you look bad.
Your superiors will notice and you won't ever get ahead. Plus, you don't know who they know. Sure, it might be a manager at McDonald's, but she might know someone who is a manager at IBM. Do you think YOUR name is the one she'll pass along when her friend tells her, "We really need to hire some people, but we don't want to put out job ads?"
Worse than that, your co-workers will notice. Why is it worse? There are a lot more of them then there are superiors, you don't know who they know, and your very presence will insult them. A job that you think is below you is something that someone else worked very hard to obtain and is proud of, so who are you to spit on their achievement? Don't forget, people who work that hard and maintain a good attitude are likely to succeed. Once again, when they do, do you think your name will be the one that they recommend to anyone?
It's so hard to remember these things when you're suffering, when you've gone through so much loss, and so many of us have. It's reasonable to mope and cry and resent your situation, but that can't go on forever. So many people spend decades stuck in this rut of entitlement-created misery. Some NEVER recover. It's natural to want the best for yourself, but it's foolish to expect it.
If you're stuck in one of these ruts, there is one simple way out: gratitude.