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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Finishing College

Dear Sue: I went to a fairly expensive college in the Midwest from 1988 to 1991. I left, very foolishly, before finishing just 2 classes needed to earn my degree. I subsequently finished those two classes, one within 2 years of leaving, and one in 2001. From what I have learned, though, I needed to complete both of these classes within 7 years of leaving, i.e. by 1998.

It seems that if I wanted to try again to complete my degree, I would have to attend 2 more years of classes, many of them the same ones I took years ago. I'm not in a financial position to do that.

I am now in a job search where it seems every position requires a degree. How can I discuss this clearly and concisely on my resume when applying for these positions? Do I just mention that I attended the school and what my major was? Do you have any suggestions? Please help!

- Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Sue Says: The first thing you need to do is become absolutely certain about what it will take for you to get your degree. I am not convinced you have thoroughly investigated your options or determined if there is any way around what “seems” to be an expensive and lengthy process to obtain your degree. Do whatever you can to expedite the process.

Meanwhile, you can, and should, mention the school you attended and your major. If and when you are questioned about it, be honest; tell people what you have told me. And, don’t assume that the lack of a degree will prohibit you from getting a job. You have the education, and you have experience—which others may or may not have. Embellish on the qualities and qualifications you have, not on those you lack.

As you continue your job search, your success, or lack of it, will determine what you do. Don’t assume you will be hindered, but if you find that your lack of degree is the reason you cannot find the type of job you want, then pursue it, no matter how slow the process.

It is never too late to complete what you started, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Not only are there many successful people without degrees working jobs that require them—there are many people like you, who are close to having a degree, but do not. Good luck.

Dear Sue: I work in a professional office. A lady I work with is bubbly and outgoing, and I like her a lot, but I am bothered by the way she talks; she talks like a baby. I wonder if other people notice it as much as I do. I'm not one to be a gossip or talk behind another person's back, but I am afraid this could affect her career. I don't think other people take her seriously or view her as a professional person. I have not known her very long, so it is difficult for me to tell her that she should tone it down.

The other thing is that she has a habit of charging items to our manager's budgets. For example, we have company logo sweatshirts that we give our clients. Our manager asked her to order 10 sweatshirts to mail his client. She ordered 15 and gave the remainder out to our coworkers. We were way over budget last year on office supplies because she orders way too much stuff. She just spends the company’s money like crazy. I think she may have a real problem. I would express my concerns to our manager, but I don't want to be the tattle-tail or make my manager feel like I'm trying to take over her job. Besides, she must know what is going on.

My coworker actually wore a shirt to work last week that said "It's All About Me." I think this is accurate. If there isn't something in it for her she pouts like a baby. Please help.

- Not a babysitter

Sue Says: Your question is interesting. You began your letter stating your desire to help your coworker, but by the end of your letter, your tone totally changed. Are you asking for help because you want to help her, or are you seeking help for yourself, because you are irritated by her?

There are several issues that seem to be bothering you. I wonder, are you this involved or concerned about other coworkers or just this one?

I understand your desire to let her know her voice minimizes her effectiveness. If you are close enough to her to talk with her so that she can change if she wants to, you could be doing her a favor. However, she may not appreciate your “helpfulness” and could be offended. For all you know, she may like her voice, and talk like a baby on purpose—maybe the results are positive for her; it may be helping her get the things she wants.

If you let her know you are concerned about her spending, she might thank you for alerting her, but there’s a good chance she might resent you for your meddling. The same is true with your manager; you don’t know if your “meddling” will be appreciated or resented.

Because there are so many variables, before you do anything, step back and think about your motives. You need to determine the real cause for your “concern.”

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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