Washington: I have become increasingly frustrated with my job. I have a bachelor's in English and a master's in communications. I work as an editorial assistant and came in with a starting salary of $28,000. I understand that to get experience I needed to take a hit in salary. However, I am competent and believe I have done well in my first year on the job. I have a suspicion that my first raise this summer won't even get me to the $30,000 mark. I am depressed -- even a 20 percent raise wouldn't get me to $35,000, which is still dismal. I have been looking for new jobs, but the salaries aren't much higher than what I currently make -- which isn't even the cost of a year of college these days. Why are employers so unfair like this?

Are they unfair? Or are your expectations completely unrealistic? The figures you mention are very much in line with starting wages for someone with your educational background. This is something you should have investigated before you picked your major, and most definitely before you chose to attend graduate school. It's not your employer's responsibility if you chose a private school over a public one. (By the way, four years of in-state tuition at the latter comes to well under the annual salary figures you cite.) So stop being depressed, realize you are making a fine living for someone fresh out of school, and take pleasure in the raises you get. The better pay and promotions will come in due time.

Gaithersburg: What is the best way to be proactive in following up on a resume submission when so many postings either just give a fax or specify absolutely no calls?

Research the organization, so you can better tailor your application, and work your network to make contacts inside the company. That will beat randomly faxing in applications any day.