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Communications of the ACM

ACM CareerNews

Revving a Career While It Is In Neutral

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Meghan Stinton of the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce

Manager Meghan Stinton (seated) with a colleague at the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce.

Credit: Chris Schneider / The Wall Street Journal

With prospects for new openings or promotions still limited at many organizations, a growing number of workers are struggling to take their careers to the next level. The ones who eventually land new positions will find ways to cope and make themselves more marketable for when companies start hiring again. Workplace experts and career coaches alike advise workers to be active players in shaping their future. There are a number of ways workers can bolster their résumés in preparation for improved hiring conditions: volunteering with external organizations to gain new skills, building a wider network of professional contacts, and accepting a lateral move within an organization.

One of the reasons many people may be feeling like their careers are at a standstill is a decrease in voluntary turnover rates nationwide. Between January and November of 2009, only 19.6 million workers quit their jobs, the lowest amount during any period since 2000. With fewer people quitting or retiring, there are simply fewer promotional opportunities. Another reason is that many workers didn't receive pay increases last year, and some even saw their salaries shrink. Of 555 large and midsize U.S. employers polled by consulting company Hewitt Associates in October, 48 percent said they froze wages in 2009 and another 10 percent cut salaries. While many firms expect to reinstate raises this year, the average increase will be just 2.5 percent, the second-lowest level on record, reports Hewitt.

From The Wall Street Journal
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