Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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ASK DR. JOB:Turn Hobby to Retirement Biz

(Q, 1)  I WORKED AS A SECRETARY 22 YEARS but always dreamed of being a teacher of handicrafts in retirement, since I have real credentials and awards in this area. I left my job last month and. I know from shopping in handicraft stores that it's a popular field, but I don't know who might hire me. Do you have any ideas?

(A) IN PLACE OF SEEKING FULL-TIME WORK, which would be hard any time and is especially so during this economic climate, think out of the box. Apply to give programs at evening divisions of local colleges, in senior centers, in lifetime learning programs, and senior residences. While not permanent, such assignments may bring some income and much satisfaction. Meanwhile, you can troll the Internet to see if anyone is advertising for a handicrafts teacher, and place some ads of your own on popular sites. All this requires serious marketing work: looking up prospects, cold calling the people with power to hire you, and sending resumes and making follow up personal calls. But remember the results will be very rewarding.


(Q.2) I'M A LEGITIMATE MASSAGE THERAPIST and am having a hard time getting work. I've applied at resorts, spas and cruise lines, but all have long waiting lists for interviews. Meanwhile, when I apply to massage parlors locally they seem to think I do other kinds of "work", and I do not. How do I make clear what I really do and find some of that work?

(A) ONE AREA OF MASSAGE THERAPY you may want to explore while you're waiting for interviews is giving corporate massages. Many therapists do very well marketing themselves to companies that allow employees to take a short break during the day, or during a lunch hour, to have a massage. Develop that "brand" as a certified therapist who offers relaxation, which improves work, and approach human resource departments or supervisors in corporations with that message, and you may develop a nice business. Others have.


(Q.3) I WORKED FOR A PLUMBING COMPANY six years and was fired for a variety of reasons, but when I went to pick up my final check they asked me if I'd like to keep working for them. I agreed, and worked two more days. Then I quit because they made things so hard for me. I went to get Unemployment Insurance, but was told I can't have it because I quit instead of being fired. The company sure tricked me. Is there some way I can get around this?

(A) PROBABLY NOT. THOSE SEEM TO BE THE RULES in your state. Check with an attorney to be sure that's the case, but don't spend too much time or money on this. Instead, turn your efforts and attention to finding another job. Plumbers are always in need, and you should be snapped up quickly. The good news is that if you are asked about your previous job you can say you quit, instead of that you were fired. It sounds much better and that's what will be on your record.


(Q.4) I was having lunch with two co-workers, and waiting in the restaurant for another one to join us. Stuck in traffic, that woman called one of our companions to explain her delay, and that woman put her phone on "speaker." Before signing off, the caller joked, "...and don't save a seat for me next to Julia."  She and Julia don't like each other. Julia was sitting right next to me. I didn't know what to do so I burst out laughing very loudly and said, "Oh, isn't Barbara a riot?? She always has to joke." And the others joined in my laughter. It worked and, we had a nice lunch, but I felt uncomfortable and still don't know how to face Julia without being embarrassed. And I wasn't even the one who made the faux pas. So what ARE we supposed to do when everyone has a phone in his or her hand and no one hesitates to turn the speaker on full blast?

(A) FORGET THIS INCIDENT. YOU weren't the bad guy; you were the good one who saved the day. But tell Barbara that talking that way on a cell phone is unacceptable, not to mention stupid. And in the future, plan dates only with people who like each other. 

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