I Just Work Here

More (f)or less, being overworked, underdpaid isn't uncommon

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Overworked and underpaid

Welcome to the economy, where more and more workplaces are doing everything on a shoestring. (Lee Frost Robert Harding / March 29, 2011)

— Anonymous, via email

A: I can relate. The Republican Party has repeatedly asked me to throw my hat in the presidential race, but each time I tell it "no." I just feel the best way to serve my country is by answering workplace-related questions and making as many inappropriate jokes as possible. (Also, my Ron Paul allergy would keep me out of debates.)

I consulted several career coaches, and all agreed that employees shouldn't worry about how management might perceive the decision to skip a move up the corporate ladder.

"I don't think it makes you lazy to not want to assume a different type of role," said Debra Wheatman, president of the New York-based Careers Done Write. "The people who take those positions or interview and then wind up taking them because they think it's expected often wind up leaving because it's not the job they wanted."

What these situations can present is a good opportunity for workers to examine where they want their careers to go. Wheatman suggests taking a piece of paper and writing your career interests and goals on one side and the job description on the other.

"Look at how it matches up," she said. "Is it 50 percent interesting to you? Is it 75 percent? Is it an exact match? Where does it fall?"

If the opportunity doesn't seem right, figure out what opportunities might be attractive.

And if you think management is expecting you to jump at an opening, explain honestly why you're passing on the job.

"Honesty is the best policy," Wheatman said. "You can say, 'I love my job and I love what I've been doing, but this particular role doesn't seem like the best fit.'"

Chances are, your bosses will admire you for being a straight shooter.

Gotta run. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is calling. Looks like I have to break his heart again.

TALK TO REX: Ask workplace questions — anonymously or by name — and share stories with Rex Huppke at ijustworkhere@tribune.com, like Rex on Facebook at facebook.com/rexworkshere and find more at chicagotribune.com/ijustworkhere.
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