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Resume Help/A few general job search questions


1. I encountered something today that disturbed me a little bit. The very first page of the online application asked for desired salary. This was no fly by night company - it's a pretty big hospital. My selection was "negotiable." I imagine this is a way to weed out candidates. Is this a damned if you do damned if you don't sort of question? I feel as if there was no right answer here. Can you advise?

2. I've been thinking about my resume. In a previous job I was promoted twice (before doing something stupid to get fired.) I've been including this company with 2 different entries to show how I got promoted. I stayed at this company almost 6 years so I want to show longevity as well. Is this the correct way to handle this?

I was recently laid off from a position I held for almost a year. There's still a chance I will be called back but I'm not holding out for that. Prior to this I was unemployed for almost a year so I'm having some anxiety about this. I'm just saying I do not want that again.

Thanks for your time and advice.

Hi Ryan,

I'll take your questions in the order you gave them to me.  First, as to the salary question, there is no one "right" answer for this kind of inquiry.  Companies (including hospitals) ask this sort of thing frequently and they do it for different reasons - that's why one "right" answer is not possible.  In a way it is a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" dilemma, but it's still something a lot of job seekers have to deal with.  I would recommend that you research the specific field that you are applying for (floor nurse, assistant administrator, or whatever it is) and find the salary ranges that apply to your discipline in your geographical area.  There are several such Internet sources that can be helpful to you here.  

If you have been in this field a while (and it sounds like you have), what were you making previously?  What were you making after your two promotions?  What was your salary prior to being laid off?  With the salary-range info and your own experience, you should be able to come up with at least a fairly narrow salary range that would be acceptable to an employer and to you.

I am not sure I understand your item number two about including "different entries."  Whatever you choose to do in your resume, it should be crystal-clear to whoever reads it.  There should be no doubt as to your meaning or methodology.  If you want me to be more specific here, send your resume to me as an email attachment to the address below and I can probably give you more specific advice.

Your last item doesn't seem to be a question so much as reassurance.  Certainly no one wants to go through what you have described with firing and layoffs, etc.  But when you say you "do not want that again" I am unsure what "that" refers to.  Do you mean the year of unemployment followed by a year-long job followed by the layoff?  If so, I can understand that.  But you are not really asking me a question there.  If your question is "how do I avoid that in the future" I'm afraid there are just too many variables for me to respond in a meaningful way to you.  I don't know the circumstances of the layoff, the firing, the promotions, the exact jobs you held, etc.  Your narrative needs a bit of connection for me to understand how this all fits together.

Perhaps if you can send me an email with a more-clear progression from one event to the next, and then attach your resume, I think I can be of much more help to you.

Best wishes,

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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