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

Dr. Marie McIntyre - Underpaid

I'm not getting any decent salary offers during my search for a new job, so I need to figure out whether my expectations are reasonable. I know that I'm being underpaid. I served in the military for several years and now work for the federal government. Next year, I will complete my business administration degree. Do you think I receive low offers because I have not yet obtained my degree or because I'm not marketing myself well?

For a reality check on your expectations, research typical salaries for the jobs that you're considering. Possible information sources include professional associations, salary-comparison Web sites or friends who work in human resources. Networking with people who hold similar positions can also be helpful. Your current low salary may be triggering the unsatisfactory offers. Many organizations automatically offer new hires a certain percentage above their current pay level. However, that figure is often negotiable.

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

Carrie Mason-Draffen - Exempt status

My employer has just expanded my hours, requiring me to start 15 minutes early and quit 15 minutes later. During that extra time, I have to restock supplies and clean, in addition to the time I've devoted to changing into a uniform or traveling to various locations. My employer states that I am not eligible for extra pay because I am a commission-only employee and earn a salary. Can an employer demand that commission-only employees forgo extra pay even when they must take on extra work?

Your company can't declare you ineligible for the extra pay simply because it considers you a commission-only employee or because you earn a salary. If you are not exempt, then the company has to pay you for the time you spend traveling to other work sites, changing into a uniform, cleaning and restocking. Those are all considered work under federal labor laws. Your company needs to take a closer look at your duties to determine your status.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a Newsday reporter.

Mary Ellen Slayter - Getting an interview

I can't seem to get my foot in the door. Because I moved frequently for my (now ex-) husband's job, I don't have a lot of tenure and my experience is sort of random. This means that I never get called for interviews based on my resume. On the other hand, once I get in the interview room and explain myself, everything goes swimmingly. So how do I get in the room?

Get your face in before your resume. This is generally a more effective strategy for everyone, not just people who have bounced around a lot. Your resume should come in attached to a referral, ideally from someone who can speak well of your work.

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

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