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Q. I was recently passed over for promotion for the second time. As a senior nurse, I have often filled in for our supervisor, so I have experience in that role. However, now that I’ve been turned down twice, it seems clear that I am never going to get a supervisory position.

What I am struggling to understand is why an unqualified co-worker was chosen for this job. “Callie” not only has less experience, but also treats colleagues disrespectfully and generally has a negative attitude. Several other nurses have expressed disappointment that she is becoming our supervisor.

I also have concerns about the selection process. Callie had several peer interviews, but none of them included anyone who might oppose her. Our manager was aware of the complaints about Callie, but apparently decided to ignore them. Should I raise questions about how this was handled?

A. The key consideration is whether anything would be gained by sharing your concerns. If there were any hope of reversing the outcome, then it might be worth exploring how this decision was made. But if Callie’s promotion is a done deal, your protest could easily backfire and do more harm than good.

In terms of your career, the real issue is not why they chose Callie, but why they didn’t choose you. If the higher-ups feel you are not management material, you certainly deserve to know why. So instead of focusing on Callie’s shortcomings, ask what you could to increase your own chances of promotion. Once you understand how you are viewed, perhaps you will be able to reshape those perceptions.

Q. My son, Bart, is about to be released after spending six years in prison. I’m concerned that his incarceration may make it harder for him to find a job. Now that almost all applications are online, what can he do to encourage someone to contact him?

A. First, like all applicants, Bart must learn how to conduct an effective job search. Looking for work requires a specific set of abilities, including resume writing, networking and interviewing. Mastering these skills will help him overcome the inevitable obstacles created by his prison record.

Submitting online applications is fine, as long as that’s not all he does. While personal networking is recommended for everyone, it is especially important for applicants who have red flags in their background. A referral from someone who can vouch for Bart’s character will go a long way towards helping him land a job.

Toward that end, Bart should seek out activities which could provide him with references. Athletic clubs, church groups and civic organizations can all help to build his contact list. Any type of work, paid or unpaid, will also strengthen his resume. Volunteer assignments are fine, but a temporary or part-time job would be even better.

Finally, your son should take advantage of any employment-related programs available to former inmates, because they will be tailored to his specific circumstances. All this may sound like a lot of work, but the most successful applicants are those who approach their job search as a job.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

www.yourofficecoach.com

Twitter: @officecoach

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