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

Job Turnover

Dear Sue: I am trying to figure out why I am not getting anywhere in my career. I graduated from college, but feel as though I wasted my time because my degree hasn't done anything to help further me over the years. I worked at a job for seven years before getting laid off, and I was out of work for almost a year until I found another job, which only lasted 18 months.

I know someone who has been very successful. He got a job right out of high school, worked for the same company for 44 years, and retired as one of the executive vice-presidents there.

Am I doing something wrong or am I just unlucky? 

- Unlucky

Sue Says: You may feel unlucky because things haven't always gone as you'd like, but actually, your path is not as unusual as you may think.

Working for the same company until retirement was something most people counted on years ago. However, with the changes affecting the workplace today, the only thing you can count on is change. The way we do business is rapidly changing. The company you work for today could very well be a different company tomorrow.

You don't say why your last job lasted only 18 months, but by some standards, that is a long time! If you are confident in your abilities and believe you have a lot to offer, then move on and find another job. But this time, don't go in with unrealistic expectations. Don't expect anyone to take care of you. Try to view change positively. Each new beginning can be an exciting adventure.

I hope it helps to know that you are not alone with your thoughts and concerns. Read on:

Dear Sue: Within the past two years I've lost three jobs. Up until now I still had my confidence, but I can't even bring myself to look for another job at this time.

I don't know where I may have gone wrong. I get fantastic feedback from my friends, coworkers and relatives. They tell me that I am easy to work with and that I have a great personality and character.

I have experience in a variety of fields and am intelligent enough to perform any duty assigned to me, regardless of what kind of a position I may have. If I am uncertain about something I find a way to figure it out.

The reason I'm given when being laid off never seems to have anything to do with my performance on the job. It's either that there wasn't enough work for me to do (even though everyone else was swamped), or due to some unforeseen occurrence. I am afraid to take another job for fear it will happen again. What can I do? 

- Scared

Sue Says: Interview with confidence, knowing that being laid off does not have to reflect negatively on you. Reinforce all of the qualities that you know make you a good employee. It is possible that what happened has nothing to do with you or your ability.

Evaluate each situation and determine what, if anything, you can do differently in the future. Perhaps your experience is too varied and specializing in a particular industry or establishing an area of expertise would be of help to you. Don't fight the things you can't control, just take charge of the things you can.

Dear Sue: I am the director of a childcare facility. In the last six months I've had five employees quit without notice. I have an open door policy and had a good relationship with these workers. I've been unable to contact them for any kind of an exit interview so have no idea what their concerns were. How can I prevent this amount of turnover in the future? 

- Stumped

Sue Says: You say you have an open door policy -- you may need to open the door a little wider. My first inkling is to question just how good your relationship was with your employees -- five employees quitting within six months isn't exactly proof of solid relationships.

Perhaps you are hiring people who underestimate the challenges of working in a childcare facility. Make your hiring decisions carefully, take a good look at the way your employees are treated and ask for feedback frequently to address any problems before another employee decides to quit.

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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