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

Can't Hold a Steady Job

Dear Sue: I am a 45 year old married man who is intelligent, educated, decent, and responsible. I have worked for close to 80 employers since the age of 12, and almost all of my jobs have been boring and way below my potential. I finally got so frustrated that I published a book on how to become wealthy making minimum wage. However, the constant job hopping and pathetic wages have nearly caused a divorce and extreme marital difficulties. Each time I lose a job it is all too familiar; the employer wonders why I end up taking longer to be trained than others or how I miss so many details. I have become very insecure, and always save every penny I can get my hands on because I never know when I will get another paycheck.

I’ve accumulated a nice amount of money on a very small income, which is why I wrote the book. I want to add to it and retire as soon as possible. I don’t know why I can’t get a real career and stick with it. I am beginning to wonder if there is something wrong with me or if I have some sort of personality disorder. Can you help?

– Jim

Sue Says: If you haven't already, seek professional help – I don’t know if you have a personality disorder or not, but it would take a trained professional to diagnose you. You may have some type of learning disability or Attention Deficit Disorder, which would explain some of the frustrations you are having and your difficulty in being trained and missing details. Whether you are diagnosed with something or not, it still would be worthwhile to talk with someone to gain insight, confidence and create an action plan for your future.

Not everyone has a “real” career. You have accomplished quite a lot in spite of your shaky employment history. Give yourself credit for accomplishing what many people with “real” careers have not. You have accumulated some wealth and have published a book – not an easy feat, yet something you have been able to do in spite of your struggles. Perhaps there is a way to utilize the skills that work well for you in these other areas and transfer them into your next job.

Continue to write and promote your book when you can, and work at finding something more meaningful to do. Good luck.

Dear Sue: I seem to have a problem that I'm not sure how to correct. I have been working for a company in sales now for four years. I have been quite successful in my territory, have won awards and consistently meet all my goals and criteria.
Our region is full of successful people so I know I am not the only one, but I do not understand why my boss always overlooks me and ignores me when it comes to promotions to management. He often praises others for my ideas and rarely gives me the same consideration he gives others. I have been an excellent employee, never cause any problems and get along well with everyone. I am getting very upset by this and don't know what I am doing wrong.

– Tanya

Sue Says: Perhaps the only thing you are doing wrong is asking me why you aren’t being promoted instead of asking your boss. Is your boss aware of your ambitions and desire to move into management or are you hoping and assuming he knows? If he is praising others for your ideas and you are overlooked, speak up and take ownership for your contributions. It sounds as though you are an ideal employee, doing well in sales and giving your boss absolutely no reason to disrupt what is obviously working. Have a talk with your boss and tell him of your aspirations. Ask him what you need to do to receive more recognition and promotion offers. Stop guessing and start taking more control of your career.

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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