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

Personal Issues

Dear Sue: I am 32 years old. Over the last 10 years, I have had a number of short-term jobs. Due to an abusive marriage, I worked sporadically, whenever my husband allowed me to. Because of this, I was forced to quit some of my jobs, and ended up being fired from others.

I am out of that marriage now and am concerned about finding a company that will be interested in me. When I get an interview I find it difficult to explain why I changed jobs so frequently, and I usually do not get a job offer or a second interview.

I would love to have a chance to work and provide for my son, but I do not know how to get past this hurdle. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 

- Deborah

Sue Says: Sometimes addressing an issue up front and honestly, can work in your favor. When in an interview, instead of dodging the issue of your employment history, or trying to explain it in too much detail, come up with something acceptable to say as an explanation for your sporadic work history.

Without going into too much detail, you could cite some "personal issues" you've had that made it difficult to focus on your career at that time. Then let the interviewer know that those issues are behind you now, you are a stronger person as a result, and that you are thrilled to be in a position to make a long-term commitment at this time.

Keep in mind that it is not always necessary to list every short-term job you have held on your resume.

Don't assume that people won't hire you -- give yourself a chance. Congratulations on getting out of an abusive marriage and moving your life forward. I wish you the best.

Dear Sue: I spent 11 years with one company. I moved up quickly, taking on more and more management responsibility until the company filed Chapter 11. I got a job offer from another company during that period, which seemed like a perfect match, but it wasn't. Six months later I resigned. They liquidated five months after I left.

I feel so disillusioned with leaders. So many CEO's surround themselves with people who just say yes all the time. They say they want independent thinkers with a lot of ideas, but ultimately they would rather have everyone just nodding in agreement. Everyone in these types of organizations becomes the type of employee who does whatever they are told and collects their paycheck.

I spent my entire career at two companies that no longer exist. I feel like I can't fit into the corporate world because I am not the right type of employee.

I am worried that I can't follow a leader and that maybe I am a problem employee. What do you think? 

- Concerned.

Sue Says: I think you are a disillusioned employee, not a problem one. Being different does not make you a problem employee -- unless you are creating problems or difficult to work with.

However, the fact that you are annoyed with the way organizations are being run, and because you are considering doing something on your own, you may be ready to make a major change.

You may be the right employee for a different type of organization -- one in which you are encouraged to take on leadership roles and think for yourself. Keep looking and try to find something better suited to your needs and personality style.

Dear Sue: Do you think it is a good idea to include the fact that I spent four years as a homemaker, on my resume?

- Lisa

Sue Says: Although some people would suggest you leave it off, I think that if that is what you did, and the reason you weren't employed, then you should feel free to include it.

Many women take a break in their careers to be at home -- a prospective employer should respect you for honoring your priorities and being honest about them.

If you find you are not getting any responses or interviews, you can always change your resume. It's always easier to go with the truth than it is to try to come up with some type of explanation.

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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