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Handling Even Your Big Glitches Gracefully

"Any time you make progress, let the person who's affected know just to give the appearance of progress," Sun said.

Beginners might want to rely on a trusted mentor for immediate advice on how to broach the subject. And they shouldn't be nervous to ask for help before starting a tricky new assignment, said Keith Morneau, a professor of information systems at Northern Virginia Community College.

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"Use the failure as a learning experience and try to never do it again," Morneau said. "I see failure as a tool for learning on the job. Students do not like to hear this, but it is true. You do not learn without making mistakes."

In the event that no amount of follow-through can save your job, be honest about the reason for your departure with potential employers. Stress positive job evaluations and emphasize the procedures you followed to make the situation better. It's not too cheeky to ask for a recommendation from your previous employer if you handled yourself with integrity, Kenny said.

"Most employers really would like you to work again," she said.

Most of all, try to keep the situation in perspective.

"It was one mistake. I don't think entire careers will be messed up, unless you keep doing it," said Ron Cimino, a longtime technology recruiter at Paul-Tittle Search Group in McLean.

Feeding the Monster

TMP Worldwide Inc., owner of the career Web site Monster.com, plans to gobble up rival HotJobs.com in a deal worth about $450 million. The transaction would marry the nation's two largest job-search sites, according to a tally by Jupiter/Media Metrix.

The deal could close by the end of the year, according to a Monster spokesman. Monster executives have said they plan to keep the HotJobs résumé database and jobs list operating as a separate brand.

"All indications are" that the company would support both Monster and HotJobs, said spokesman David Rosa.

But industry watchers suggest that, if the deal goes through, the split may be temporary.

"I have difficulty believing" they'll leave HotJobs alone, said Mark Mehler, an expert on online job searching and co-author of the book "Career XRoads." Mehler said it's far more efficient for recruiters and job seekers to visit one mammoth database.

The HotJobs acquisition is the latest in a string of deals by Monster to purchase its online competitors while their stock prices are depressed.

Send tips, gripes and your impressions on punching the virtual time clock to Carrie Johnson at johnsonca@washpost.com.

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