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Jewish World Review May 4, 2001 / 11 Iyar, 5761

Getting Hired By Marvin Walberg

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Consumer Reports

Salary issues -- DEAR MR. WALBERG: I would like your advice on a couple of issues:

I was "laid off," "downsized," "let go" or however you would like to phrase it. On many job applications, your reason for leaving your last job is asked. What is the appropriate term to use in this situation?

And how do you respond to the employment application question regarding "salary range"? My last job paid slightly more than the bottom end of the scale for what I am applying. Is it wise to report my income honestly? I'm tempted to fabricate a figure in the middle of the stated range, but while I don't want to sell myself cheap, I don't want to be eliminated for consideration, either.

My mama always told me honesty is the best policy, but you ain't my mama. What do you recommend? - J.C., Ventura, Calif.

DEAR J.C.: Like the drill instructor tells a new batch of recruits, "For the next few weeks, I'll be your mama and your daddy, so listen up!" Honesty is always the best policy, but a lot depends on how your answers are phrased.

In response to your first question, why did you leave your last job? Was your job eliminated due to an economic reduction in work force, or were you asked to leave for other, not-so-honorable reasons?

If you were "downsized" during an economic reduction in the work force, just say so - you did nothing wrong. Tell the truth, accurately and very briefly: Your job was eliminated due to a reduction in the work force, period.

In regard to salary range, do not fabricate information on a job application or in an interview. When the truth is discovered, the result is usually devastating. Fill in the blank with the income you received on your last job, estimating a combination of salary plus any commissions or bonuses that were paid or anticipated.

If you were earning slightly more than the bottom of a stated salary range, then you should take the position that you're ready to move up that scale, but that income is earned, not granted. Ask for an opportunity to prove your worth and earn what you prove.

Marvin Walberg is a job search consultant and the author of ''About Getting Hired: the Job Search.'' Comment by clicking here.


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04/05/01: Revealing past crime depends on job-search situation
03/23/01: Job seekers can still find employment without degree
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03/08/01: Know thy boss
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02/08/01: Ten tips that deal with job loss
02/02/01: Include cover letter even if ad says 'resume only'
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