Recession Career Guide: How to Move Up and On at Work

Recession Career Guide: How to Move Up and On at Work

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Managing Your Career

Compare Your Paycheck
You know what you make. But do you know what you could be making? Salaries are now pretty much an open secret, thanks to a few websites that post real numbers and other insider corporate information across industries and even within companies and departments. Whether you’re looking to negotiate a raise or just wondering what the guy in the next cubicle (or in the cubicle across town) pulls down, the information on these three sites can help reassure you or motivate you to make a change.

  • salary.com The mantra at this site? “Know what you’re worth,” says CMO Meredith Hanrahan. Ballpark data generated by the salary wizard tool (also available at sites like monster.com) pops up if you plug in your job title and zip code, and it’s free. For an average of $49, you’ll get a report that better pinpoints your worth by using more precise metrics. You’ll also find 150 articles on understanding pay and performance.
  • payscale.com For a quick snapshot of where you stand, complete the free survey at the sitewhich includes questions about job title, location, years of experience, and degreeand you’ll get a number, based on the more than eight million surveys on file. For $19.95, you can order a more customized report.
  • glassdoor.com This best-of-breed site lets you browse anonymous company reviews and employee ratings as well as real-time compensation data parsed by position and company, right down to bonus and commission numbers. The site works on a “give to get” model: Filling out an anonymous survey about your company and salary gets you free access to the other 150,000 reviews of 18,000 companies. These careers are recession-proof. 

The mantra at this site? “Know what you’re worth,” says CMO Meredith Hanrahan. Ballpark data generated by the salary wizard tool (also available at sites like monster.com) pops up if you plug in your job title and zip code, and it’s free. For an average of $49, you’ll get a report that better pinpoints your worth by using more precise metrics. You’ll also find 150 articles on understanding pay and performance.

You know what you make. But do you know what you could be making? Salaries are now pretty much an open secret, thanks to a few websites that post real numbers and other insider corporate information across industries and even within companies and departments. Whether you’re looking to negotiate a raise or just wondering what the guy in the next cubicle (or in the cubicle across town) pulls down, the information on these three sites can help reassure you or motivate you to make a change.From Comstock.com Network Now—Before You Need To
It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. Social and professional networking sites like Facebook are the fastest-growing way to put that truism to work online. “The key for senior business folks is to build your network before you need it by helping others make connections and offering good ideas to your friends. It’s a ‘pay it forward’ approach to networking,” says Brian Hackett, founder of the Learning Forum, a network of 120 human-resources leaders from Fortune 500 firms, and a fan of LinkedIn and Plaxo. But at Facebook, LinkedIn, and Brightfuse, you can also burnish your profile (with recruiters and employers and search engine optimization in mind), post your résumé, research companies you’re interested inand even zero in on a job. Experts suggest that you follow these steps to prepare for a recession. 

    • linkedin.com Join an alumni group, check the profile of the person you’ll be sitting next to on that panel next week, or ask a question on the help board and you could be sowing the seeds that will grow into your next referral. There’s also a job search feature and tons of useful information about specific companies here, though the introduction tool is kind of clumsy.
    • plaxo.com This site began as a way to sync your contacts and keep them up-to-date but has since added Pulse, a networking feature that’s aimed mostly at social users, who can easily share feeds from sites like YouTube and Flickr. While it’s not a must, it’s another tool in the arsenal for a job seeker. Says Debra Yergen, author of Creating Job Security, “I like that it sends me a weekly update of who is connecting to whom.”
    • Careerbuilder.com’s brightfuse.com is more or less throwing a party online, but when we tried to mingle with members based on our profile, only two rather random profiles came up. Nevertheless, having a built-in job bank and all the other resources of a mega-site like CareerBuilder isn’t all bad. Stay tuned.
    • ning.com If you want to link up with people who share your interestssnapshots of your vintage motorcycle collection, maybe?ning’s the thing, allowing you to form your own social network. Creating an alumni group or a support group for fellow job seekers is another targeted way to exchange relevant information and increase your chances of landing the gig of your dreams through networking.
    • facebook.com More than 100 companies, including Microsoft and J.P. Morgan, recruit candidates on Facebook. Plus, you can post a résumé, create an electronic business card, and import your LinkedIn résumé and recommendations, then choose how to network with the 150 million members. Just be sure to delete those photos of you wearing the grass skirt and the coconut bra at the Sigma Chi pledge party.

Moving Up
Always Know Who’s Hiring
Whether you’re looking or not, it pays&mdashliterally&mdashto keep current on who’s hiring and for what. These niche job sites let you focus on your field and plot your next move on your own terms.

Creative and Tech

  • krop.com Anyone in these fields should bookmark the home page of this useful, tightly focused site.
  • dice.com This site boasts more than 55,000 tech jobs, which can be easily retrieved and filtered.

Executive
Since the market at the $100K-plus level is highly competitive and positions are often snagged through connections, these hybrid sites emphasize networking, research tools, and job skills as well as listings.

  • theladders.com Billed as the leading online platform for the $100K-plus job market, this well-regarded site posts about 50,000 screened listings on its main board; its specialized channels include finance, HR, law, marketing, and sales. Free access is limited. For more than a peek, you’ll pay $30 a month, $180 for 12 months.
  • 6figurejobs.com Membership at this all-business, award-winning site for CEOs, GMs, SVPs, and other big-wig acronyms is free. Network, browse advice pages, and search several industries, specialties, and locations for screened listings, or “sweep” to find more unscreened ones.
  • vault.com One-stop shopping for MBAs and their ilk, whether they’re right out of college or well seasoned. This site has become a comprehensive hybrid model with networking, salary data, and more, both free and through paid subscription.

Finance

  • careerbank.com A network for those in the accounting, banking, insurance, mortgage, and finance sectors.
  • efinancialcareers.com Asset management and commodities are just two of the sectors represented on this comprehensive network of career sites.

Government

  • usajobs.gov Log onto this government-sponsored clearinghouse to browse more than 30,000 federal job postings.

Health Care

  • biospace.com Lots of extra content makes this more than merely a job bank for professionals in the pharmaceutical, bio-tech, and other health-related industries.
  • healthcareerweb.com Medical professionals can search jobs and network here.

Hospitality

  • hcareers.com Browse positions everywhere from Wendy’s to the Waldorf, both management and nonexempt.

Noncorporate

  • snagajob.com. Timecard punchers can trawl by zip code for hourly jobs to find more than 100,000 gigs.
  • employmentguide.com Jobs posted here from employers like AT&T and UPS are targeted at entry- and mid-level hourly workers.

Nonprofit

  • idealist.org A nicely designed directory of volunteer, nonprofit, and internship opportunities put together by international not-for-profit Action Without Borders.

Regional

  • jobing.com Offers a hometown focus on 36 areas nationwide.

Retail

  • workinretail.com On this basic job board, you can pull up listings from retailers, banks, and hotels, entry level to VP.

Others

  • latpro.com Launched as a niche job board for Spanish/English speakers, this site has grown into a clearinghouse for candidates from around the world.
  • vetjobs.com Jobs in dozens of categories are submitted by employers who value the skill sets of those who’ve served their country.

Consider a Change of Scenery

The idea of working abroad used to be outside the comfort zone of Americans. But by the fall of 2008, job-seeking refugees from the worlds of law and finance were already sending their résumés to foreign postings in increasing numbers. And younger job hunters were looking abroad as well.

Wherever you’re headed, the Internet is the place to start your search. Monster.com and craigslist.com have country-specific, sometimes city-specific, job listings. Salaryexpert.com and worldsalaries.org give ranges for specific jobs in any given country as well as charts detailing the cost of living.

  • Check out the encyclopedic government website Americans Living and Traveling Abroad and expatforum.com. Beyond the challenges of culture shock and language, you must deal with the roller-coaster dollar as it rises and falls against other currencies. And unlike many other expats, Americans must file a U.S. tax return, even if they pay taxes in their host country.
  • If you can, open an account in a bank that has branches in both the United States and the country where you’ll be living. Money transfers will go more smoothly, you can call the U.S. offices for help with problems, and you’ll have a local branch where you can do business.
  • Know that the quality of medical care varies wildly. As soon as you get settled, make it a priority to get doctor and hospital recommendations from other expats or the U.S. embassy. You don’t want to start searching for care when you have a midnight emergency.
  • Link up with a currency exchange specialist so you can purchase and deposit large amounts of currency when the rate favors you.
  • Scan all your important papers—passport, visa, etc.-and upload the images to a flash drive that you store in a safe place.
  • Ask a friend or relative to be your liaison back in the States for any problems that may arise.
  • Subscribe to a VoIP service like Skype. International calls via the computer are much cheaper.
  • Expect culture shock. It can take up to two years to start feeling comfortable.

–Doug Colligan Work As Long As You Can

If you’re on the cusp of retirement, you may be staying at your desk longer than you had hoped, thanks to a decimated 401(k) portfolio and declining home values, a traditional source of equity. Most Americans over 50 haven’t even roughly evaluated how they’re going to pay for retirement, says Bob Skladany of retirementjobs.com. Prepare for the long haul: Beginning at age 40, make sure you are in a vibrant sector, he says. “Work very, very hard after age 55. Don’t ‘retire’ on the job. Tell your boss you intend to work 10 to 12 more years, and go on record,” he advises.

Staying employed reduces the number of years you’ll have to live off your retirement income and gives you time to rebuild savings and boost future Social Security payments. Working full-time past your anticipated retirement date could increase retirement income by about 7 percent for each additional year of work, says a report by T. Rowe Price Associates. How much money you will need in retirement depends on how you want to live. Conventional wisdom suggests squirreling away 70 to 80 percent of your preretirement income for each of your golden years. Calculators at moneycentral.msn.com and aarp.org can help you estimate. Visit ssa.gov (click on the Estimate Your Retirement Benefits link) to see what you can expect from Social Security.

Headhunt the Headhunters
“The old adage ‘Fish where the fish are’ works well in job searching,” says Cleveland-based consultant Joel Cheesman, who runs a whip-smart, highly opinionated blog devoted to online recruitment at cheezhead.com. “Do your best to get caught, which means finding recruiters online who blog or who are part of a social network,” he advises. “Join their social network and become a friend. Comment on their blog and make sure there’s a link to your LinkedIn profile.”

You’ll get contacts but also insight into what makes recruiters tick, their thoughts on various job boards, and other relevant news and information. To find lists of recruiters by specialty, try sites like findarecruiter.com, i-recruit.com, and onlinerecruitersdirectory.com. It’s not only recruiting blogs that are worth bookmarking but also those by people who cover specific industries.

Says Willy Franzen, founder of onedayonejob.com,”:Bloggers are usually at the forefront of their field, and for the most part, they’re very accessible.”

Find a blog that covers your area of expertise, read it regularly, and e-mail comments, links, and other useful info. Just don’t hit the author up for a job with your first e-mail.

The New Temptations of Temp Jobs
Whether you’re downsizing your hours or trying to right-size your career, consider temp jobs. If you still equate them with filing and typing, jump ahead a few decades. Today, highly educated professionals fill short-term slots-typically three to five monthsacross all industries, including medicine, law, and technology. Indeed, 88 percent of surveyed temp employees say their stints in temporary jobs helped them improve or learn new business skills. Should a full-time permanent position open up, you’ve got the inside track because you’ve already proved your value to the company. And if you’re interested in changing careers, you can get a firsthand look at different fields without a long-term commitment. Some temp firms even offer benefits, including health insurance and vacation time. To find an agency near you, click on Job Seekers at americanstaffing.net. –Neena Samuel

What’s Next?
Heidi Waterfield, 43 Daly City, California
Field: marketing/project management

“I have two part-time jobs at small companies because they allow me the flexibility I need as a mom with a young child and a husband whose work schedule is inflexible. I do PR and marketing for a manufacturing company, and I manage projects and write proposals for a graphic design firm. I have an undergraduate degree from Yale and a master’s from Harvard in education, but I’m not putting either to use. I was thinking about starting my own educational consulting business, for flexibility and, I hope, more income.”

Free Advice (from Nancy Widmann, coauthor of I Didn’t See It Coming): “You’re picking up valuable skills but may be spread a little thin. Pick one company with the most potential and make a commitment. This should free you to work on starting your own business. Put together a survival fund that covers expenses for 8 to 12 months. Moving full-time to your own business should be paramount, but only when it can replace the income from your part-time jobs.” –Kathryn M. Tyranski

What’s Next?
Dorothy Dobbs, 67 Jacksonville, Florida
Field: insurance compliance

“I had planned to retire this year, but I’ll probably need to work another two or three years, if not longer, to recoup the losses that my retirement portfolio has taken recently. Since I’m over 65, I’m able to collect Social Security, which goes straight into my 401(k). I’ve kept my portfolio balanceda third in stocks, a third in bonds, a third in cash. The stock market can be volatile, but I don’t plan to pull out. I love my job and I don’t mind working. But when I do finally retire, I want to continue to enjoy my life whether I’m hot-air ballooning or visiting Las Vegas.”

Free Advice “You’re healthy and you want to have fun in retirement, so you need enough money for a couple of decades,” says Sherrill St. Germain, founder of New Means Financial Planning in Hollis, New Hampshire. “If you’re not comfortable with a higher level of risk, you’re right to want to continue working.” Adds Bob Skladany of retirementjobs.com, “Income from a job is the one thing you can do something about.” –Kathryn M. Tyranski

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest