An interactive interview by readers of

Are you in a work rut? Are you buried under paperwork? Is you personal life off balance because of work? Anita Bruzzese advises how to beat the workplace blues and make life more rewarding.
Anita Bruzzese writes "On the Job," a nationally acclaimed workplace column that was syndicated through Gannet News Service in 1992.

The transcript of the discussion follows below.

Silver Spring, MD: What do you do if you find that the government contracting job you accepted is nothing like you expected and there is no improvement in sight? Another project is expected to get started but has not been awarded yet. You've begun to interview with other companies that have a longer term project than your current job but the benefits are worse than your current company?

Anita Bruzzese: It really depends on how long you've been on the job. If you've been there more than 90 days, and you really don't see any improvement in sight, then I think you should first go to your supervisor and simply say, "I think there's a problem." Then outline what your expectations are, and what some of your concerns may be. Because of the tight labor market, I think employers are willing to go that extra mile to see employees happy. If they can't satisfy you, start looking elsewhere, and perhaps you'll find a great job with great benefits!

Silver Spring, MD: What types of jobs would you suggest that a person go after who works in information technology who has project management strengths but does not really like to manage people? I am very good with establishing and maintaining excellent client rapport, exceptional follow-up on project, etc

Anita Bruzzese: What I find interesting is that you don't like managing people, but you obviously have strong people skills when dealing with others. Could it be that you just got off on the wrong foot in management? There are lots of companies that rely on teams, and that could be where you want to go. Somewhere that you are not in charge, but where you have some say-so. Perhaps you would be better suited to a smaller company where the hierarchy is not so important, but individual contribution is.

Vienna, VA: How do I know when to throw in the towel and look for another job? I'm currently in a rut because my manager is in the process of being replaced -now 2 months overdue-. Every day that passes, I am frustrated because my manager is not doing his job correctly and I end up having to deal with the mess. I am waiting for my new manager, but I am beginning to feel like I won't be able to be happy about work even with a new manager because I'm getting exposed to so many problems in upper management as well. What do you consider the breaking point when someone really just has to start over?

Anita Bruzzese: It sounds to me like you're reaching the breaking point. Is this job starting to adversely affect your personal life? Do you have trouble sleeping? Stomach problems? Etc. That's when you know it's time to start looking. It sounds like you are truly disillusioned with the company, and you believe no new manager is going to help that. I think you've really answered your own question.Start polishing that resume.

Fairfax,VA: When is it time to "cut and run?"

Anita Bruzzese: When the job is making you physically ill, when you feel so burned out you cannot think of being on that job another minute, let alone another day. It's time to go when you have talked to management and they truly have nothing left to offer you in terms of growth. Lots of people are willing to stay and suffer through a job just for the benefits. But if we're talking that the average worker will be on the job until about age 68, is this the place you want to be all that time? Don't look at it as "cut and run." Look at it as "leave and grow."

Alexandria, Virginia: Dear Anita Bruzzese, My name is Ermias M Tedla, I am thirty years old, married with 12 week old baby boy. I am from Indiana, I graduated from Indiana University & Purdue University -IUPUI- Indianapolis. I graduated moved to Washington D.C. area in august of 1992. I have a question that you may be able to assist me, ever since I moved to Washington I have worked for myself for 2 years as co-owner of a restaurant. I managed 14 people & the entire operation of the business. I worked over 100 hours per week for 2 years. After that I went into commodity brokering as independent sales commissioned agent. I worked for a company in Monaco -DenbyHoldings Limited for the past 5 years- I resigned from Denby in late October seeking to find employment in the corporate world. I am having great difficulity finding a pleasant job, that fits my background and my unique experience. I have traveled internationally extensively for the past 5 years, I am now looking to stay here in the states and work in the corporate field. I seem to be lacking direct related experience in today's market, what I don't understand is I have owned business which gives me some understanding of management, I have sold at the highest level dealing with commodities to international clients but no luck. I think one of my biggest problems may be that I have not looked or don't know how to get in contact with employers so they can interview me to give me a chance. I have never quit on anything that I decide to do, can you help me in meeting people or companies that are looking for people that are high achievers, quick learning ability, and integrity that I feel will help me in my job search. I am looking for entry level management jobs or sales. Thanking you in advance for your time and advice. Sincerely ermias

Anita Bruzzese: My first inclination is to tell you to get busy networking. you need professional contacts in the fields that interest you. Start making a list of people you know, both personally and professionally, and then let them know you're looking! My second inclination is to tell you to stop for a moment and truly consider what it is you want to do. Maybe your problem is that you really don't have a passion for these positions you want. What did you want to do when you were a kid? That's your passion.

Washington, DC: Anita- I started working at a hopital directly out of college, working predominantly as an office manager. I have parlayed that into an account analyst position in the billing area, but I am miserable. I have a worthless college degree -Political Science- that I do not plan to use. My wife and I are moving next spring due to a job change for her and I would like to use this opportunity as a springboard to a career change. My question is this - where do I start? What are some good resources for determining what line of work I could be happy in?

Anita Bruzzese: Okay, grab a glass of wine, sit down in a comfy chair without distractions and let your mind wander. What did you want to do when you were a child? What are things you truly enjoy doing. Working with people? Working outdoors? Problem-solving? Forget about the degree...lots of folks have educations they end up hating. But you still have a well-rounded education that gives you the smarts to do some research. Get on the Internet and scout out companies that interest you. Maybe you wanted to be a professional baseball player. That may be out for now, but could be work with a baseball organization in some way? That's what I'm talking about.

Washington D.C.: The skills I have are all adminstrative assitant oriented, just basic microsoft office skills. I plan on going to school this January to get Microsoft Certified. Will that help my career path?

Anita Bruzzese: Yes. Anything you can do to improve your skills is a plus in today's job market. Never stop learning, and you'll always be a success.

Silver Spring, Md.: I ran my own pastry business, went back to school and got a finance degreee. I speak, French, Spanish and Arabic. I am a financial analyst but working with government accounting. I am trying to move into public accounting but seems to encounter a wall. What can I do, I have been looking since August, but keep being turned down as I my experience does not match what employers are looking for.

Anita Bruzzese: Perhaps it's the way you're presenting your experience. There are tons of books on the market today (including mine!) that offer advice on how to construct winning resumes and give super interviews. Most online job sites offer similar advice. And, another idea is to ask those who have turned you down if there was something specific that did not appeal to them. That way the experience is not a total loss for you.

Washington D.C.: I have been temping for the last four years on and off and its starting to get me down. I need something more stable in my life. I plan to get Microsoft certified starting in January. Will that help my job prospects?

Anita Bruzzese: Yes, that will help. But I'm also concerned that in all those temping job you could not find an employer who was willing to take you on permanently. Were there offers that did not appeal to you? Maybe you are simply pursuing the wrong career goals...and that is what does not appeal to you. Do you really like what you're doing? Could that be what is getting you down? Do some soul-searching before you head further down this path.

Annapolis, MD: I graduated 3 1-2 years ago with a BS in Computational Math and a minor in Business. When I graduated I had a lot going on, I was getting married, we were buying a new house, etc. I tried looking for a job in my field but because I needed the cash flow, I started doing temp work, with the plan that I would do that until I found my "ideal" job. So now here I am, 3 years later, in a permanant job as an Executive Assistant, frustrated beyond belief at the lack of challenge, direction and growth in my professional career. So my question to you is this - Is there anyway possible that I can get back on track, into a field that I would enjoy without quitting my job, going back to school full time and starting over from scratch? I now have even more responsiblity than when I graduated.

Anita Bruzzese: Don't feel bad. You're not alone. This problem is very common. We take a job to pay the bills, and find ourselves miserable. You have some excellent education, and I would say you're not putting it to good use. Get out there. Call up old college buddies and professors and see what they can tell you about the field that interests you. Call everyone you know and tell them what you would like to do, and ask if they know anyone you can contact. Get on the Internet and see about posting some (secure) resumes. I'd say you have the most important ingredient -- the drive to do more!

Gaithersburg, MD: How-where do I get a laboratory job at the Ph.D. level? Where do I go for the source of these Ph.D. level lab jobs? Is it on the internet-what web address? Most of the jobs I see advertised are at the BS level. I have been contacting the chairpersons of the departments at medical universities -Johns Hopkins University-medical school and University of Maryland--anatomy and pathology departments-. Right now there are no jobs for me at the Ph.D. level. Before that, I tried the BS level jobs at hospitals for histology lab jobs and turned up no jobs. I have been looking for three years now and got nothing. In the interim, I have been working in the field of environmental science for environmental consulting companies cleaning up the environment. The only problem is that the government keeps changing priorities and takes the money away from the projects I have been working on. This happened on the Superconducting Super Collider project I worked on in l994 when Congress stopped the project after about five years of being funded. Just in March l999, I was let go from another environmental consulting company because the government decided to send troops-resources to Bosnia so money was taken away from my project. I have had enough of this and am looking for a steady-stable laboratory job--probably in a hospital. It is just that for the three years that I have been looking, I did not turn up a BS or a PhD-level job. I am now working with a counselor with the Montgomery County Career transition center, working on my resume for these lab jobs and am getting additional computer training to enhance my skills. Do you have any insight into this situation? This seems like a tough situation. Thanks for any assistance-help-guidance-direction you can provide. It would appreciated. Sincerely, Dr. Hoffman-Till

Anita Bruzzese: Let me say that I don't have any knowledge in this field specifically, but I think you're doing a couple of things right. You're working with a counselor, which is good. You're staying up on the web to find sights that interest you. That's smart. But do you not have any professional organizations that you can turn to for information? What about contacting the human resources person directly at a hospital and ask to take them to lunch or coffee, or even 20 minutes of their time just to see what you can find out.

Fairfax, VA: I have just graduated with a B.S. in Finance. After learning that this was not my true passion, I quit my job. I have decided that I want to tranverse into a completely new industry- media and film production. Problem is: I don't have the experience and the degree to back up my interest. What steps can I do to make the move without looking like a confused person?

Anita Bruzzese: First of all, my congratulation on dumping a job you hate. I would say you may possibly have to go back to school to get some of the new skills you desire, but I would also suggest you contact local companies that appeal to you. If they're not willing to let you hire ojor a mentor...they can do wonders in teaching you and introducing you to others.

Centreville, Virgina: I am presently teaching high school English and I am seeking a career change toward coporate training-sales position with a "high-tech" company. If I am asked why I am seeking a new position, how do I respond?

Anita Bruzzese: You simply say that you were seeking more challenges, and this field really appealed to you. Say that your past experience with people has given you good coping and cooperation skills, as well as taught you do be self-motivated and a self-starter. Say the old job was a terrific experience, but you are ready to move on.

Washington DC: Anita I'm British and have been working in DC for a British company for the past 3 years on an L1 visa. I would like to move on from my current employer and find other opportunities in the DC area. Will US employers sponsor a green card application or visa for myself? Alternatively how do I go about finding British companies based in the DC area, as they may be more willing to sponsor me? I look forward to your response.

Anita Bruzzese: I'm not sure on the legal question regarding your green card better contact a legal authority on that one. As for finding British companies, have you thought of contacting the British Embassy? They may also be able to answer your question about the green card.

Los Angeles, CA: I recently relocated to Los Angeles from the Bay Area during the middle of the summer. Because my wife is such a loyal and practical person, we decided that it was in our best interest if she stayed with her job for a few more months to complete at least one year with the company and then seek jobs in Los Angeles. She finally received an offer a few weeks ago, which she accepted. However, she still had a few more interviews that she had already scheduled, and I convinced her that it wouldn't hurt to see what the other companies had to offer. It turned out that one of those companies' and her needs were compatible and that they offered her a much higher compensation. She couldn't pass it up so I told her to accept it and decline the other one. The company that made her the first offer called her and left an irrate message on our phone. They want her to call them and speak with them. What should she do? Was it wrong what she did?

Anita Bruzzese: The problem here is that your wife "accepted" the first company's offer. If she wanted to interview with others, she should have told them that in the first place. It was not a good idea to accept, then decline. It's not only unprofessional, but can cause problems in the future if this spurned employer decides to let others in on what happens. It costs time and money to recruit and hire. I'd say that company has every right to be ticked. So here's a good lesson...don't do it again. Send a formal letter of apology.

Silver Spring, MD: I am considering leaving my job after only 6 months. I am worried about telling them I am leaving. Any advice on how to best handle this situation? Thanks.

Anita Bruzzese: You didn't say why you wanted to leave, but before you do, have you discussed it with management. Many companies today are willing to work with you to keep you on board. If you are leaving for another, better position, simply say that while you've learned and grown on the job, another -- incredible -- opportunity presented itself that you just can't give up. Perhaps to lesson the blow you can give a bit of extra time for them to find someone and even perhaps help train this person before you leave.

McLean, VA: You have asked several chatters to use their childhood career aspirations as their guide. What if you never had one? I honestly never had a dream of being an astronaut or ballerina or anything. Half the people I discuss with feel the same way, and the other half think I had no imagination as a kid. What next?

Anita Bruzzese: I recently came across an essay I wrote when I was in about sixth grade, and in it I stated I wanted to be a teacher. I don't really like anyone else's kids but my own, so where I got this idea is beyond me. But the essay won a writing award, as did a couple of others I wrote after that. But not once did anyone (or me) suggest writing as a profession. It wasn't until high school that I fell in love with my first journalism class. My point is this: is there something you enjoy doing, that seems to come easily, that gives you pleasure or you feel passionate about? Think about it that way.

Silver Spring, MD: I am only a few years out of college and doing quite well in my profession. However, I am now realizing that I really want to work in the field of national security which is a little different than what I am doing now. I know the company I would like to work for and I've found quasi-entry level job openings of which I have most of the qualifications. My question is: everyone says you should find what you want to do and then do it - but how do I if I have no work experience in that field? I do have work experience with the necessary cognative thinking, analytical and writing skills, but is this enough? It seems to me that an employer will always choose the person with the resume that shows actual work experience in that field.
Silver Spring, MD: I am only a few years out of college and doing quite well in my profession. However, I am now realizing that I really want to work in the field of national security which is a little different than what I am doing now. I know the company I would like to work for and I've found quasi-entry level job openings of which I have most of the qualifications. My question is: everyone says you should find what you want to do and then do it - but how do I if I have no work experience in that field? I do have work experience with the necessary cognative thinking, analytical and writing skills, but is this enough? It seems to me that an employer will always choose the person with the resume that shows actual work experience in that field.
Anita Bruzzese: You are part of an interesting generation. Employers are finding that your generation may not necessarily have SPECIFIC skills in a given area, so they are looking for pesonality traits, such as the ability to think problems through, being dependable, etc. So don't necessarily write yourself off. I'd go ahead and apply and start learning what they looking for. Hone your interviewing and resume skills through books and Internet services.

McLean, Virginia: Good morning! I have recently been separated from a company based on an issue related to not having the required "skill set" to do a particular job. My dilemma is this. I have a good combination of sales and technical experience-skills which would spell success in a Sales Engineer-Technical Consultant capacity which includes prior certifications. I am having a problem securing interviews for a "foot in the door" position with internet-related companies specializing in Corporate Portal development for its clients. My question is general in terms of how to enhance my skills but for the purpose of an example let's say I need to get up to speed on XML and Java skills which I don't have experience in but is necessary. How can I retool myself in the next few weeks by training etc. so that I can be deemed up to speed in those areas? Any advice on specific training centers-web sites etc. that specialize in this would be welcome. In the past I have attempted to position my technical skills-certications as showing aptitude for success in the new position but they just aren't buying it. Thanks.
Anita Bruzzese: I can't give you specific sites on the'll just have to start searching, use key words you mentioned. I don't know that you can get the skills you need "in a couple of weeks," but I'd say you're on the right track with improving your skill set. There's lots of good college courses in your area..find out if something is starting after winter break and get yourself enrolled!

Washington D.C.: Dear Anita: I had been working at a retail store as a clerk for 2 1-2 days when I got a call for another position that was willing to pay me more and pay for all of my medical insurance. That same day, I told my boss that I was leaving. When she asked why I told her that I was offered more money and health insurance. -She offered health insurance six months down the road, and I would pay for half-. She was infuriated. She told me that she liked me so much that she had let go 2 part time people -at Christmas!- and that I had committed to a year at her rate. -which was 8.00-hour-. After 2 1-2 days, how much commitment do I owe them? How much notice should I give them? I had signed an agreement stating that in the 3 month probationary period that I could leave or I could be fired without any reason. I never turned in my W2, and the training, because I was experienced, was minimal. Should I feel guilty for leaving?
Anita Bruzzese:'s wasn't the best move I've ever seen. Managers in retail situations are faced with their busiest season, and on top of it all, they have to recruit and train new talent. You've left her with a big problem, which is probably why she reacted that way. But as long as you didn't sign something committing to a certain length of stay, then you have a right to leave. But, just to be nice, I'd suggest staying through the Xmas rush if you can. And maybe you can even recommend someone who would like your job.

Charlottesville, Virginia: I like the work I do -legal publishing- but the managers drive me insane. What do I do? The obvious answer is do the work somewhere else but the legal publishing field is dominated by two companies and the other one is in Minnesota. I have no ambition to move to ice station zebra. Any suggestions?
Anita Bruzzese: You don't say why the manager drive you insane. Is this a personality clash? Is there something you could do to ease the tension? How about going out for lunch together, or ordering in pizza. Maybe this will help to break the tension. Or, can you possibly get a more flexible schedule so that you can work at home sometimes (and get away from them). If you're being overloaded with work, then set up a chart with your projects listed. If they pile on the work, say, "Okay, but which thing should I give up?" and point to the chart.

Washington, DC: I have a great job. I like the people I work with and the work that I do. I have over 22 years invested with the government and can basically retire in 8 more at the age of 55. Yet, the demands of the job are getting to me. I seem to have volunteered for all the work that comes along, and though things have gone well, I see looming dificulties in retaining some of the best contractors who have made the work so successful. Also, work requirements have grown faster than our staffs and budgets. I've been successful in identifing ways to use new technologies to aid in getting the work done, and this success has been rewarding, but even success and good excitement can create stress. I have health problems that may or may not be due to work, but that reduce my ability to cope with stress. I recently have been diagnosed with sleep disorders, and have been on rather helpful medications for depression for over a year. Additionally, I have reduced all personal-life activities except for a modicum of volunteer work, and a good friend who I date a lot. Reducing outside commitments helps me get through the work day better, but I question whether waiting 8 more years for my social life to improve in a next career is good thinking. I don't know how typical I might be of your other readers, but would be very interested in what insights you might have for someone like me.
Anita Bruzzese: There is actually a word for people like you. "Toxic handlers." That means that you're very good at what you do, but you also take on the burdens of an office, putting yourself in the middle in order to make things better, or take the load off others. It has been proven that toxic handlers have many of the physical problems you describe, in addition to higher incidences of heart attacks and cancer. You tell me, is a job worth it?

Portsmouth VA: I've been trying to locate a job in the NVA without much success. I'm a Visual Basic programmer with 5 years of experience and just started getting into internet experience. Friends are telling me that I need to quit my current job, take a chance and move to the NVA area. Do you think that is a good idea? Doesnt that decrease your bargainning power since I know longer will have a job?
Anita Bruzzese: It's easy to say to quit a job when you have a job, isn't it? But who's going to pay the rent and put food on the table? You, that's who. Don't get pushed into something you're not ready for. Looking for a job is stressful without thinking of starving to death. The Internet is a wonderful tool in searching for a job. If you don't know how to use it, find someone to teach you, or get information through dozens of books out there about searching for a job online. NVA is no cheap place to makes more sense to line up a good job and THEN move.

McLean, VA: To the other person in McLean looking for Sales Engineer and Technical Consultant work--network like mad! I got a TC job with ZERO industry experience. I was leaving the military and my relief happened to have a brother at a telecom company, and here I am. Go to trade shows and conferences. Visit Cisco or AOL websites, or whoever you want to work for. I knew how to use a telephone and nothing more, but it worked out for me.
Anita Bruzzese: Yahoo! That's what I like to hear! Congratulations!

Arlington, VA: Currently, I am working a masters degree that is not directly related to my current job. I expect to work very hard to complete the degree by next spring. My work hours are fairly flexible and I know my job well, but I am becoming disillusioned with management and corporate problems, and there is no tuition reimbursement plan here. Should I look for a new job now, or wait until I complete my degree?
Anita Bruzzese: It depends. Is your disillusionment making you a nutcase, or it just bothersome? It would make more sense to hang onto a job that is paying for your education, but if it's really driving you crazy, then start looking around. It won't hurt to begin putting out feelers, and may help you feel more hopeful and able to stay until you complete your degree.

Fairfax, VA: I am at a complete dead end at my job of 3 years and have been searching via newspapers, journals, internet and personal contacts, but with no success. I am so desperate to het out of a horrible situation that I am considering going to a temp agency with the hopes of finding something permanent. Can you recommend anything? I have a Bachelors in Education and a Masters in Economics.
Anita Bruzzese: Many people have found temp jobs to be a perfect solution. Still, I am curious as to why you can't find a job after three years of really looking. What are your expectations? What requirements are you not meeting -- or exceeding -- when you interview? Maybe you're not even looking at jobs you really want. I say it's time you brought in another person to take an objective look at where you're going. There are very talented career coaches out there, or even ask a trusted friend to go over your strategy with you.

Rockville, MD: I am searching for a job in the area of cross-culture and multi-lingual can you tell me where I should be looking? My languages aside from English are French, Vietnamese and Icelandic. I have lived in all three of these countries.
Anita Bruzzese: I'd say because so many companies are launching international enterprises these days that you would be valuable to them. Look for companies with business in countries that have the languages you speak. Or, contact universities and see what their foreign language departments recommend. And, don't forget the U.S. government. How about embassy work in another country?

Miami, Florida: I am 34, with an Engineering degree in electronics and communications and a MBA. I am from El Salvador and don't have a green card but I am willing to work in the United States. In 91 and 92 I worked in San Juan, Puerto Rico with a H1 work visa. I have a lot of experience in computers, Audio and video systems, Internet, software development, multimedia, and other areas. QUESTION: WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF GETTING A JOB IN THE UNITED STATES?
Anita Bruzzese: I would say that you better get a green card first. Most reputable companies with good jobs for you are going to want to see that documentation. You have highly desired skills, however, so I would suggest contacting your embassy in the U.S. to find out more.

Washington D.C.: Dear Anita: I would like to change occupations. For the last seven years I have been in the book business; as a manager at a large chain to a rare book dealer. However, I would like to work in non profit agency....How do I translate my experience to fit the job? Or can I?
Anita Bruzzese: The simplest answer is to start volunteering in places that interest you. That's the best way to hear of openings, and show off your skills. You've got many skills any company needs -- profit or nonprofit. You can manage, work with people, handle responsibility, etc. Those skills have no boundaries.

Washington, D.C.: Dear Anita: I have been out of work for 3 months while I have been caring for my parents who both underwent surgery in September. I need to reenter the job market, as my savings are almost gone and I would like to go back to work since my parents seem to be getting back on their feet. Will employers understand this lag in my resume?
Anita Bruzzese: Yes, I think they will. Most of us have been in similar situations, and employers are not different. Simply be honest that you were caring for loved ones, but now they're back on their feet, and you're raring and ready to enter the job market again.

Alexandria, VA 22311: I've sent more than 100 resumes for jobs advertised in Washingtonpost Civil engineering construction- So far I did not receive any positive responses - why? My resumes comply with resume standards and I started sending resumes four months ago.
Anita Bruzzese: Exactly what resume standards are you talking about? I had one human resource person tell me her trick was to always use all the words that appeared in an employment ad in her cover letter and resume. Then the employer says,"Oh my! This person is just what I'm looking for!" Sounds silly, but it works. Get yourself one of those dynamite resume writing books, or research resume writing online. Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it.

Parkland, Florida: I've been a stay at home parent for over 10 years. Am ready to slowly -as in flex time- ease my way back into the working world I have a BA in Sociology and am registered to take course in Web Designing, Web Master, and A+ certification, also, possibly in MCSE. The question then becomes, now what? It's been so long since I've been in this process that I'm unsure where to begin. My husband is a branch manager for a major financial consulting firm and I'm waiting to find out where his new branch will be located -hopefully within the next few months - around the same time I should begin finishing these computer courses-. Any and all suggestions and advise would be warmly welcomed.
Anita Bruzzese: Sounds to me like you're on the right track with the computer courses. Start letting folks know you're going back to work. Have your husband spread the word through his contacts. Call up old work buddies and let them know what's going on, and what skills you'll be bringing to the table. Search the job postings online. Many offer flexible arrangements. But, please do not start your interviewing by telling employers "I'm looking for flextime." To them, that translates into: "I'm going to be putting this job second as I run to soccer games." Get the job, prove yourself, then negotiate. Look for companies that are already family-friendly.

Washington, DC: After working for 10 years in Washington, DC to secure a public relations career, I ended up in a well-compensated job as director of pr for a national trade association. I found the job to be intolerable for various reasons and, through my own volition, I resigned. I am not sure what to say when potential employers ask why I left. Is it acceptable to say that I left for 'personal reasons'? Or, do I try to explain 1- the organization was restructured leaving me with a job that wasn't a 'good fit'; 2- I was promised administrative support but essentially lost my help in the restructuring; 3- I had a boss from hell; 4- the industry did not particulary care about addressing its image problem and refused to put money into a pr program; 4- the position did not offer the level of challenge I needed to be happy. I was having a conversation with a personnel director about my situtation -in an unrelated industry where I don't plan to work-, and she said that people just didn't get up and walk away from a high-paying job such as mine without some precipitating event. My main reason was that I wasn't happy, considering all the factors, and I wanted to devote my full energies towards finding a job that I can be passionate about. I have an excellent work history and superb references, including a letter from a colleague at the organization where I worked. While I have a tendancy to be very honest about things, I am not sure how much I need to say in interviews. Help! -also, I am assuming that you don't publish any information or e-mail identification related to people asking questions...I do want full anonymity.- Thanks for your consideration of my dilemma.
Anita Bruzzese: Okay, when you go for an interview you can say that you and your last job were just not a "good fit." That this was your fault for not asking the right questions during the interviewing process, but now you certainly know what to ask. And then do so. Tell them you've used it to reassess where you want to be, furthered your education (if you have), etc.

Silver Spring, Maryland: What suggestions have you for the 50+ job unemployed searcher who chose totake a buy out from a major newspaper because my job making me physically &emotionally ill.? I'm temping for one the best agencies in the Metro area. Running into cliches in interviews like "we're looking for someone with 'a lot of energy'. I'm a full-figured tall attractive impressive intimidating black woman with sales & PR background
Anita Bruzzese: This is one of the toughest areas I run into...searching for a job at 50plus. I wish I could say that there are enlightened people out there who should value the experience, commitment and dependability that older workers bring to the table. Unfortunately, that's not always true. But are you happy temping? Any reason you want to leave temping? How about freelancing? Have you checked the minority job sites online? Many employers are interested in hiring people of color, and will post on these sites specifically. In the meantime, let everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- know you're looking for work!

Washington, DC: I am looking to change my career from an admin. asst. to a web programmer. I have gained quite a bit of experience on the job, as well as through school and working on outside projects. Unfortunately, I'm not having much luck in locating a job, because most of requirements ask for skills I haven't had the opportunity to learn, or use at my current job. What would be the best approach to take in trying to aquire a web position? More education -which I'm currently doing-, a headhunter, mass mailings? Thanks.
Anita Bruzzese: I think you pretty much answered your own question. You lack skills that you need. Get them.

Memphis, TN: How will you know if the job that you want is the right job? How will you know if you have chosen the right career?
Anita Bruzzese: Ahhh..the Holy Grail of workplace advice.I think everyone wishes they had this knowledge. Let me say this: I took a job one time because if was desperate. I hated it from the first day, and after a year and a half I was going crazy. I should have gotten out sooner. My mistake was accepting a job that I knew deep down was not a good fit. If you're not comfortable interviewing there, if you don't click with the people or the company culture, or whatever ...then it's not the job for you. Remember, an employer is not just interviewing're interviewing them. That gives you the best chance for job satisfaction.

Martinsburg, WV: I will be 65 in May and I am inexcellent health and have a lot of skills to offer. How do I compete in the job market? I noticed that 99% of all information for job seekers is for a much younger age group. I know that companies say that they do not practice age discrimination but that is not correct and this type of age discrimination is very hard to prove. In my current job I regularly receive bonuses for my work and do better than a lot of my fellow co-workers. I also find that companies in DC do not want to hire me because of the commute. I commuted to DC for eight years on the MARC train and could do it again. In fact, when I was commuting to DC from WV I did not have the problem of snow and ice on the roads because the train was not delayed. You see I am fortunate that I can walk to the train station, if necessary. How do I make my resume not be age oriented and how do I show that my commute to work is not a problem? Jobs in my area simply do not pay enough for me to be able to support myself. If they did I would not commute, like so many other that live here. -over 40,000 in the panhandle commute- The over 40 agency is far too expensive for me to use. Also, when talking with them I did not get a sense that they could help me, but would like to have my money. Thank you in advance for your input.

Anita Bruzzese: Again, it's tough for older workers. You do not have to put your age on your resume, and it's against the law for an employer to ask. If you're concerned about the commuting issue, just put on the cover letter how much you love the train ride, etc. But will a job in D.C. really solve your problem financially if you're having to pay commuting costs? Others than that, I would suggest you follow the others suggestions I give for job seekers.