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CAREERS Q & A: ADVICE ON GETTING A JOB AND KEEPING IT

Dr. Marie McIntyre Talking to upper management

I am a young employee who recently attained a position that requires me to interact with top-level managers. When I request information from them, I find it difficult to get responses. I feel that I'm not taken seriously and that I'm being ignored because of my age. How do I handle this?

Communicating with busy executives can be a challenge, even for older folks. Odds are that the cause of your problem is not age, but inexperience. Getting the attention of top management is an art requiring skill and practice. Do these unresponsive managers know who you are? Executives are more attuned to people near their own level, so consider invoking your boss' name in your requests. Have you explained why you need the information? Replies are more likely to be forthcoming when the reason for a request is clear. Be sure to emphasize how providing this data will benefit the company. When dealing with an executive, the administrative assistant is your secret weapon. Going through the assistant often works better than contacting an executive directly, because assistants are quite adept at extracting information from the boss.

Dr. Marie McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.

Carrie Mason-Draffen - Exempt workers

We have two salaried employees who each make more than $52,000 annually. Because of their high salaries, we are wondering if the company can legally consider them exempt from overtime. They aren't supervisors, even though two part-time workers assist them in various clerical duties. So can they be considered exempt from overtime pay?

Reclassifying employees based solely on their salaries violates labor laws. A number of factors determine whether an employee is exempt, not just salary. To declare someone exempt because he or she is a supervisor, for example, the person must meet a duties and a salary test. The manager must make more than $455 a week. To satisfy the duties test, an employee's job must primarily involve management. That person must have the authority to hire and fire and he or she must "customarily and regularly" supervise at least two other full-time employees, according to federal statutes.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a Newsday reporter.

Mary Ellen Slayter - Head hunters

In April I am moving to Florida. I work at a bank that does not have branches there. While I would like to stay in banking, I have a strong background in reception/assistant work, sales, etc. Do you think I would benefit from a head hunter? Who pays to use one, the company or me? When should I start applying? How do I adjust for cost of living when negotiating salary?

A head hunter could be helpful, but isn't necessary. Head hunters are paid a commission by the employer when they find someone to fill a job. Online salary calculators can help you estimate of the cost of living in your new home, as well as typical salaries for your position. Online job ads are one place to start; check the local newspaper's classifieds section.

Mary Ellen Slayter moderates the Washington Post's Career Track Live, an online discussion about issues affecting young workers.

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