Ivory Tower: I love what I do, teaching people technology to support their teaching in a higher-education institution, but have found I have less tolerance for our director's incompetence. He manages to cover it up by saying things that sound as if he knows what he's talking about. Does it make sense to consider a job that pays less than the inadequate salary I make now, in hope of making connections that may help me get into a branch I want to pursue when I finish an advanced degree? If I leave, do I indicate the real reason for leaving, or do I just say that I found a better opportunity? Does the answer change if I go to another part of the same organization or to a different organization?

To answer your first question: Yes, it sometimes makes perfect sense to step down in your career in order to get ahead in the long run. Can your finances handle it? And do you have a solid idea of the end goal?

As for what you tell people when you leave . . . if the only alternative to saying you found a better opportunity is to bad-mouth your boss, keep your mouth shut. Instead, keep things positive and say you are leaving in search of a good opportunity.

Washington: I have been at my job for five months but in the same position for 15 months. I'm in an HR-related position but want something with more responsibility. I'm terribly bored and not sure if I should leave or seek career counseling. Any advice?

Start with the career counseling -- especially since you don't seem to have a clear notion of what sort of "more" you're craving.