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by Abigail Van Buren

Despondent Wife Is All Alone in Marriage to Silent Husband

DEAR ABBY: I am shy. I am by no means painfully shy, but I tend to be more of an observer when I first meet people. Once I'm comfortable I can open up and be myself. Sometimes it's only minutes, but other times I need to meet someone more than once. Many of my friends have told me their first impression of me was that I was extremely snotty. This is wrong. I'm a very kind person.

I have accepted this personality trait, but it may be interfering with my finding a job. I was recently laid off, and I'm applying for and interviewing for a new one. However, after numerous interviews I have not been invited back for a second one.

I work in public relations, where personality can be a key in hiring. I believe my shyness is hindering me from "wowing" potential employers. How can I overcome it and give a better first interview? -- WANTS TO BE HIRED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR WANTS TO BE HIRED: Public relations is a form of sales, and in sales first impressions are essential. An interview is not a social situation, where you can look someone over and decide whether or not to open up. This is business, and if you're going to get hired you are going to have to sell yourself. So start working on your sales pitch. Tell potential employers what makes you the right person for the job.

Your friends and family can help you by role-playing practice interviews. Ask them to honestly critique you. If you have been working with a placement agency, discuss this with the person who has been sending you on these interviews. His or her input could also be helpful.

If this doesn't make your job search more successful, then perhaps it's time to extend your search into other fields besides public relations.