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

Don't Hold Yourself Back!

Dear Sue: I currently am looking for a new position, and have been turned down several times for positions that I thought I would be very good at. I am a 4'8" female, and can't help but wonder if my height is holding me back.

I feel as though prospective employers do not feel as though I have enough presence. I've even thought of saying something like, "Being small is something that I had to overcome a long time ago, and I never let it get in the way of getting what I want." Can you tell me what you think? 

- Small female

Sue Says: You never will know if people are making judgments about you because of your height - or your hair color, your weight, your clothing, your nails, etc. We all make initial judgments about others and form impressions rather quickly upon meeting someone for the first time.

If you feel prospective employers think you lack presence you may be right, but it may have more to do with how you feel about your height than your actual size. Do you "stand" tall and carry yourself with confidence? Do you speak loudly and assert yourself?

Because you perceive your height to be a roadblock, try addressing it at the beginning of an interview. Don't put yourself down, come across as negative or apologize for your size. Instead, take control by showing that you are comfortable with yourself and that you do have a powerful presence. Adding a bit of humor to your comment will put everyone at ease. Addressing your height may do the trick, but keep in mind that people are most likely to be comfortable with you when you are comfortable with yourself.

Dear Sue: My sister is returning to work after years of being a homemaker and I'm returning after a taking a two year break. We both have good track records, excellent skills and have worked for great companies. However, we can't understand the lack of response from the employment agencies we have contacted.

We both present ourselves well, have a professional appearance, good skills and strong backgrounds. The agencies can't give us a good reason for the lack of interest. What can we do to break through this barrier? We'll each be on welfare soon. Please help. 

- Desperate

Sue Says: Take your careers into your own hands. While employment agencies find jobs for many people, it takes time and they don't find work for every person they represent.

Start contacting companies and find out for yourself what is available. Look through the help wanted section of your local paper and utilize the Internet. Attend job fairs, send out your resume, and use your personal network to make connections. If necessary, be willing to take a lower-level position than you may want in order to get your foot back in the door.

Don't depend on anyone but yourself to find you a job. If it happens through an agency, it's a plus, but take your future into your own hands -- starting today.

Dear Sue: I am the mother of 2 small children and want to work part-time. Most of the jobs I am interested in are full-time. Is there a good way to negotiate for a part-time position when the position is asking for full-time? 

- Mom

Sue Says: Unless you already have your foot in the door or can offer some benefit to the company, I don't think you have a very good chance of convincing someone to allow you to work part time in a full time position. You are the one who should be willing to make concessions, not the company you hope to work for.

Dear Sue: Next week I will be going for an interview at an elementary school for a teacher's assistant position. I really want this job. I've been at home with my children for the last 15 years and was really surprised when I received this call.

I know many people will be interviewed for this job, and I need to make a good impression. Getting this job is very important to me, as I find working with children a very rewarding experience. Thank you for your help. 

- Ready to work

Sue Says: Based on what you have told me, I sense your sincere desire for this position. If you can convey this desire in the interview, you will do just fine. Talk about your love of children and how important this job is to you. Don't let your fear get in the way!

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
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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