SME Agony Uncle: Bobby Kerr answers all your business and work-related questions

Join Bobby on The Hard Shoulder every Tuesday, with thanks to Energia

Each week broadcaster, entrepreneur and agony uncle Bobby Kerr joins The Hard Shoulder to answer all your employment-related questions.

This afternoon, the Communications Minister Denis Naughten unveiled his €30m bid to save the rural post office network.

As author of the Post Office Network Strategy Report, Bobby has been a key figure in the debate on the future of Ireland’s postal service and - while he had recommended a higher figure - he was encouraged by the Government’s move.

“At least something has happened,” he said. “At least money has been put on the table and I hope it is used wisely.”

From a purely business point of view however, Newstalk’s agony uncle admits he was far less impressed with the organisation’s move to raise the price of a stamp from 72c to €1.

“I think that was a crazy decision,” he says. “I personally think that in any business, if you are on the ropes, the last thing you do is put up your prices.”

Bobby, I have been very unlucky with health this past year. I have been run down with illness after illness and I have had to take a lot of time off work. They have all been fairly minor complaints; flu, chest infections eyc -  but enough to keep me bedridden and off work.

My manager has started to take an attitude towards me and comments about the amount of time I have had out sick. How do I handle this situation? Paul in Cavan.

Where an employee can prove he is genuinely unable to work, there is very little management can do but offer the benefit of the doubt – but Bobby still has a nugget of sympathy for the employer here.

“If he is genuinely ill and he has a certified doctor’s reason for being out sick he shouldn’t really have to face a kind of a change in attitude with his manager,” he says.

It is often true that the level of workplace absence is directly related to a company’s policy on paid sick leave – and in some ways, it is not surprising that there has been a change in the atmosphere.

“If he doesn’t turn up because he is sick on a regular basis and his manger is cheesed off with him; I kind of understand that,” says Bobby.

I have been working in my current position for two years. I love the company I am working for and all my colleagues there. My issue is that there does not seem to be many opportunities to move up the ranks to a higher position. I could stay on for another year or two in the same position - in a company I am really happy in - or jump ship and try and look for something elsewhere. I have had a discussion with my manager who said that they cannot guarantee there will be an opportunity for a promotion any time soon. Should I be more forceful? And am I being impatient after two years? Mary, Monaghan.

While it is clear that Mary has loved her time at the company, there is nothing 'impatient' about taking stock of your options.

“She is now looking for opportunity and has been clearly told that there probably there isn’t any, so I would say, ‘look Mary you should be grateful and happy that you have had a few good years there and you should start to move on now,” says Bobby.

“You should certainly start to investigate other opportunities because I think, generally if people tell you that there is no opportunity, you know they are not saying it for nothing.”

The bonus for Bobby is that once an offer comes along from elsewhere, Mary can go back to the company and use it to “smoke them out on how interested they are in promoting her or otherwise.”

Hi Bobby. One of my co-workers has got into the habit of turning up for work 10-15 minutes late every day. I mentioned it to my manager recently and he just said that as my colleague had to do a school run in the mornings, we had to be understanding. I was 15 minutes late recently and the same manager sent me an email noting my lateness. How do I approach this situation without falling out with my manager or colleague?

“I’d ask firstly why did this individual bring somebody arriving in 15 minutes late to a manager’s attention?” says Bobby.

“Clearly, the manager had an arrangement with this person doing a school run; there was clearly some inbuilt flexibility - and this guy didn’t know about it.

“He had no such arrangement in place.

“He decides to come in late and he gets ticked off about it? 

“Get a life and worry about something that really matters would be what I would be saying to him.”

Hi Bobby and Ivan. I have been applying for jobs for the last 6 months and have only had one interview in the whole of that time period - despite been very well qualified. I am worried there might be an issue with my CV. I have followed an online template but is there a service I can use where I can chat to someone face to face about the changes I might need to make? Thanks!

A CV is a fairly crucial piece of the puzzle in any job search and this listener has taken a good first step in acknowledging that there might be a problem with his presentation.

“Clearly something isn’t working here,” says Bobby.

“One place where you can get your CV fairly well checked, even on a rub, is to go to a recruitment agency.

“They are in the business of placing people and they will tell you fairly lively if your CV passes muster or not.

“You just go in and say you are interested in a job and you go for an interview and they will tell you there and then whether your CV is up to scratch.”

If that fails there also websites such as where it is possible to pay somebody to rewrite and redesign your CV in order to ensure you have the best possible chance of getting to the top of the pile.

You can listen back to all of Bobby’s employment advice from Tuesday’s The Hard Shoulder here: 

If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to