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Career Coach

Dear Career Coach:

Faced with the end of unemployment benefits, I reluctantly took an entry-level IT position that set me back five years careerwise. The job pays the bills, but I'm bored stiff. Any coping tips?

Overqualified

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Dear OQ:

Instead of getting down about the setback, use your excess time and energy to make yourself promotable. If you're Mr. Tape Backup, examine your company's disaster-recovery strategy and offer suggestions for improvement. Update your knowledge of related technologies, too: Learn the benefits of disk backup, for example, and point out opportunities where a modest investment could reap big savings. You might want to dress for success, too. Says Dean Ellerton, director of technology at a private East Coast school, "As IT becomes more about business, IT people will dress accordingly. We are no longer nerds stuck in the basement!"

Dear Career Coach:

During a recent job interview, the HR person asked me how often I called in sick last year. I was only out for a few days, but still I found the question disconcerting. Is it legal for a potential employer to ask? Can they check my answer?

Healthy as a Horse