Let professional business coach Karen Childress help answer your career questions. Karen will be sharing hints and tips on a host of career issues in this Q&A format.

Question: Should I tell the truth about why I’m leaving?
I am in a situation where I really enjoy the job; however, the major drawback is a CEO who is extremely abrasive. I am the IT manager for this company and have to deal with the CEO on a daily basis. His management style is one of intimidation and ridicule. There is high turnover in the management staff.

My question is when, not if, I leave for another company, how should I explain the reason for leaving? I’ve been at the present job for six months and probably will not stay for another six months. I stayed at my last two previous employers for seven months and five months. The reason for the short stay was that they were both dot coms that went out of business. Thank you.—Bill

Answer: Never say a negative word
Someday, I’m going to write a book about bosses like yours. Unfortunately it will sell only 14 copies worldwide because most bosses like that wouldn’t recognize they needed the book even if their picture was on the cover.

Even though the reason you left your last two jobs was no fault of yours, the short tenures won’t look appealing to someone scanning a stack of resumes. If you can tough it out through the one-year mark with your less than delightful boss, I’d suggest that you do that. At least then you’ll have one job to show with a little longer duration.

As far as giving the reason for leaving, do not ever say one negative word about your current boss in any interview or anytime after taking a new job. I don’t know how to say that any more clearly. It’s a small world and you never know whom you are talking to or whom they may know. You should develop another very valid and true reason for leaving, and that will be your story. You will come out ahead if you are clear and concise and stick to your story. Trust me on this one: Never say one negative word about your former boss…as much as you’d like to.

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Question: Should I take a part-time job?
I am a computer consultant for a small public accounting firm. I mostly support our accounting clients but not their accounting needs. My department implements, configures, and supports the IT needs of our accounting clients. Although I enjoy the work and the people I work for, I feel that my career is becoming stale. I would like to do more with my future, both financially and professionally. Lately, I have become fearful of my future as it relates to money. When I get my paycheck and pay my bills, I feel as though the “walls are closing in on me” because there is nothing left at the end. I am considering taking a part-time job to pay some credit card balances, but I don’t know what to do.

How do I relieve the anxiety I have been feeling and become happier with my life? I have thought about looking for a better-paying job, but it should be one that attempts to satisfy several requirements. The ideal job for me would have an increase in salary of approximately 10 percent, educational provisions because I would like to get my MBA in information management, and better benefits. I would like to be able to travel a little for my employer. I guess I am just being overly sensitive to my future and being impatient, but that is just the way I am.—John

Answer: Time for some soul searching and goal setting!
It sounds to me as if you need to do some serious soul searching, planning, and goal setting. I would not recommend taking a part-time job, assuming you already work full time. You need a life outside of work, and if you feel like the walls are closing in on you now, just try that feeling when you’re exhausted and burned out. It’s not fun. You already have in mind some pretty clear criteria for your next job, so I’d suggest that you put more detail into your criteria and begin a search. (I’m making another assumption here that you can’t negotiate for the things you want at your current job). You need to set some goals that are very specific and include target dates. Those goals could include the following:

  1. I will have a new job meeting my detailed criteria by Nov. 30, 2001.
  2. I will pay off all credit-card debt by July 1, 2002.
  3. I will begin my MBA program no later than Jan. 1, 2002.

See the pattern? Be very specific.

Also, if what you are feeling is real anxiety, please think about whether or not you might need to talk with a professional. I don’t know if you company is large enough to offer an employee assistance program (EAP). If your company doesn’t have an EAP, you may need to pay for assistance yourself. But if you are feeling anxious and aren’t coping well, then a few sessions with a good counselor might help.

Karen Childress is founder and president of ihavegoals.com. She is an entrepreneur, management consultant, and certified as a professional business coach by the Hudson Institute. A frequent presenter, she delivers keynotes and workshops to groups of 20 to 200.