San Diego Business Journal

Dear Joyce: I work for a large bank. I was hired to do data entry. Everyone in my department is from a foreign country. I have a degree in accounting from my country, but my degree does not transfer to the U.S.

A few months ago the bank changed the job duties for our department. Now all we do is open envelopes and sort them accordingly. No more data entry, just eight hours a day opening envelopes. I recently found out (1) that members of our department are at the low end of the pay scale, (2) that no citizen Caucasians are in our department, and (3) that it is virtually impossible to transfer to another department. My husband says I should look for another job. But I want to work at the bank, only in a different area. What do you think?

, D.M.

You have too much education, whether recognized in this country or not, to open envelopes eight hours a day. You're in a dead-end job and you have two escape routes. Your husband has identified one way out, and that's an option you should consider while the economy is so perky.

Get your job search launched , with r & #233;sum & #233; and contacts , before you meet with the human resources manager at your bank. Don't just say you want a better job; give reasons why you deserve a better job. It's very hard to come up with achievements opening envelopes, so stress your education, good worker traits (including attendance and reliability), and enthusiasm to do more difficult work.

Ask, "What do you suggest I should do to be considered for promotion?" Don't accept a vague, "We'll try to work something out" response. Ask when you can expect to hear something more definite. You'll know whether you should find another job after that meeting.

Dear Joyce: At 24, I have just been promoted to a supervisor's job at my company, which offers virtual training programs. Can you suggest books that might help me succeed , fairly short books, not law-book strength?

, E.F.

Amacom, the publishing arm of the American Management Association has published a nice series of "Self-Development for Success" books that don't exceed 100 pages or so. Find the books on the organization's Web site (www.amanet.org).

Another option for young managers is the newsletter Managing People at Work, published by Professional Training Associates (www.hardatwork.com). The free Web site is a delight; a banner: "If you don't succeed the first time, avoid skydiving." By using your company connection, you can get a free sample copy of the printed newsletter, a good fit for GenX managers. It contains answers to questions and solutions to problems supervisory management staff face daily.

Kennedy is a Cardiff-based syndicated writer and author of career guidance books. E-mail career questions for possible use in this column to her at (jlk@sunfeatures.com).

& #352; 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate