Odd jobs fill gap between real jobs

November 06, 2005|By CAROL KLEIMAN

Dear Coach: I've recently held a lot of odd jobs because I couldn't find work in my profession. Now I'm job hunting in my field and wonder how I should address the gap in my work history.

Carol Kleiman: Explain that jobs were scarce and you wanted to keep busy and have an income while looking for a good position.

Dear Coach: I cannot get a reference from my previous supervisor because of "company policy." Instead, prospective employers have to contact a Web site that charges them for the information. Most won't do that. What can I do to get a reference?

CK: Use colleagues or previous employers. I can understand why prospective employers wouldn't want to pay to get a reference.

Dear Coach: Not only have I been passed over for my promotion, but my manager wants me to train the person who got the job I want. Isn't that asking a bit too much?


CK: It is ironic that you can train someone to do the job but can't get the position for yourself. However, you should be the consummate professional and train the new person as well as you can. But I'd bring up the lack of logic in your next performance review.

Dear Coach: What are good reasons to cite for leaving a position? I feel that "lacked excitement," "no room for growth," and "time to move on" are good reasons but may not seem that way to a prospective employer. What do you think?

CK: If you give specific, negative reasons, they will only be held against you. The company, for instance, does not tell you why the position is open, does it? And for good reason: It's a perilous path to set out on. "Lacked excitement" is not good ever to say. "No room for growth" is just OK, but you may be blamed for that, not the company. "Time to move on" is the best. And safest.

Carol Kleiman is the workplace columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Send e-mail to

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