Dear J.T. & Dale: For the better part of a year, I’ve been looking to move on from the military. Visiting job fairs and meeting with recruiters, I’ve been told that I should be getting jobs in the $85,000-$100,000 range. However, when companies call me up for a preliminary interview, they ask my price range, and I get reactions like, “We had a feeling it would be that, based on your resume.” That’s the last I hear from them. The only jobs where I’m getting real consideration are the ones lower than my asking salary range. Advice? — Dave

J.T.: If you are repeatedly told that your range is too high, it’s time to lower your range.

DALE: Maybe, but not just yet. If you keep hearing from companies that they can’t afford you, you’re asking the wrong companies.

J.T.: Not necessarily. A lower salary is a temporary fix, but often a necessary one in order to move into the private sector. The lower pay is a form of a working education. Get hired, then knock it out of the park — all while you continue to look for work. You don’t have to stay at the new position long term. This is where the military and the private sector differ. If you get hired and soon receive a better offer, you’ll have the freedom to stay or move on. That’s the free market at its best.

DALE: I might agree if Dave were overreaching. However, he didn’t just conjure up his salary range; he deduced it from conversations with those doing hiring. Clearly, the people at job fairs aren’t hiring at his level. Who is? The same folks who’ll truly understand and appreciate his military expertise: his old military colleagues. He needs to seek out every retired military person in his field and ask for introductions. THAT’S when Dave will see the free market at its best — when he is paid what he’s worth, and now.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.