I recently chatted online with readers about their career issues. I’ll be back online at www.capbiz.biz on Feb. 4 to take more questions. [Submit questions here.] Here are some excerpts from last Thursday:

Q:My company has been promising me a promotion for almost two years. Every six months, they tell me, “We’re working on it, be patient, it will happen soon.” But it never does. I have now an offer for a good job at another good company. The money is slightly less than I’d get if I ever did actually get my promotion at my current company. In this situation, should I tell my company that I have an offer?

A: You did the right thing to get another offer. Unfortunately, that is often one of the only ways to get a current employer to actually know that you are serious about the promotion. You should schedule some time with your manager and let him/her know that you really want to be able to stay there and work, and that you have been patient (and understanding), but that you have also had other employers contacting you.

Your tone and style are important here — use a nice style and you can even ask “what would you do if you were in my situation?”

Sometimes, they can better understand if they can see it from your eyes.

Fast-tracked to exhaustion

Q: Hi, my supervisor and VP seem to think I do good work and have good potential, which is great. I work hard to earn their trust and support, and they’ve rewarded me as best they can (promotion, bonus). The problem is that after two years of intensive effort (frequent travel, working every weekend and nights), I’m exhausted and spread too thin. I need a few months to focus on my core job and recover a little. My boss, when I explained this to her, was more than a little put off and defensive. It’s possible she sees this as a reflection upon her. How else can I approach this? We have a good relationship overall.

A. I think you have to stay firm about this. If you are the “star” employee or their “go-to” person, this will not change. They will still want to come to you for these projects. You can let them know this is “not for life” but for the present time.

You can also try to get your boss to prioritize your current tasks to see which ones she thinks are most critical. Then you see about getting any help for the less critical ones.

Asked to leave

Q:My roommate was just asked to leave her federal government job because of her performance ... rather lack thereof. How should she explain to her next employer to give her a chance?

A. Encourage the applicant to talk about her strengths to a new employer as much as possible. She could say it was not a good match for her skills and talents, but it would be best if she can deflect this question and instead focus on why she would be a better fit (or a good fit) for the new potential employer.

Employee layoffs loom

Q: Due to budget constraints I am forced to cut back and/or layoff valued employees. Do you have any suggestions as to the best way to inform the employees of the bad news? Can you suggest any alternative working relationships that might work, i.e retain them as part-time or consultants that would partially satisfy my needs and theirs?

A. It is most important to be honest with them. You can let them know that you really value them, that you would like to retain them in part-time positions or as contractors, but you need to also be realistic about how much work you have for them to do and how much you can pay them.

Think about your employees in terms of which ones you would like to keep on as part-timers and have an open, individual conversation with them to share your thoughts and expectations. Try to hold all of the conversations with everyone in as close a time frame as possible. In other words, meet with all of them within a week’s time. If you wait too long to speak to some of them, news gets out and they start comparing notes behind your back.