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Three things every worker should know

By Max Messmer
Chairman and CEO, Robert Half International Inc.
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Editor's note: CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.

(CareerBuilder.com) -- If you're thinking of making a career move, now is the time.

Companies nationwide are finding it challenging to fill vacant positions and devoting more resources to employee retention.

As a result, many of today's workers, especially those with in-demand skill sets and experience, have a notable advantage when seeking new jobs or promotions.

Eighty-one percent of hiring managers surveyed recently by Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com said recruiting is equally or more challenging today than 12 months ago; 82 percent anticipate it will be just as difficult or even more so one year from now. Individuals who can fill professional and technical staff-level openings are in particularly strong demand.

These are just a few of the findings of the 2006 Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report.

The study explores employment, hiring and compensation trends from the perspectives of both hiring managers and employees in an effort to gauge who has the most influence in the job market.

With a large number of baby boomers retiring and smaller generations of replacement workers entering the labor force, employment conditions are expected to remain favorable for candidates for the foreseeable future. If you are planning to take advantage of the positive market today or at some point down the road, keep these three things in mind:

1. Your interests.

Give careful consideration to what you love most about your job before you pursue any changes. This will help you make better decisions about the next step in your career.

Remember that what motivates you in your job isn't always the same as what you do best. For example, you may be successful at managing project teams but enjoy your work most when you are a hands-on participant.

Consider assignments that have given you the greatest satisfaction and assess whether there is a pattern in the type of work you were performing in these roles.

Also reflect on what you do in your free time. Often what you choose to do voluntarily outside of the office can offer insight into your next logical career step.

If you find fulfillment serving in leadership roles in community and charity groups, for instance, why not seek a promotion to a management-level position with your current employer?

2. Your strengths and weaknesses.

Conduct an honest assessment of your professional assets and any liabilities that could be standing in your way.

Do you have a knack for solving complex computer problems but have difficulty writing business reports? Past performance reviews and ongoing comments from supervisors and others in the workplace can give you valuable clues.

Also ask colleagues and mentors for their candid feedback. You may think that you are just an average public speaker, for instance, only to discover that others see this ability as one of your greatest strengths.

Use the information gathered during this assessment to focus your career. Taking classes or seminars, asking a more experienced co-worker or acquaintance to serve as a mentor, working toward a certification, and participating in professional groups are just a few ways to build your knowledge and enhance your marketability.

3. Your options.

If you are like many workers surveyed for the EDGE Report, you may be planning to change jobs.

One in four respondents said they are currently looking for a new position; 44 percent said they will likely leave their present employer in the next three years.

Before handing in your resignation, be sure you have considered all of your options.

There may be unexplored opportunities at your current company. For instance, you may be in line for a promotion, or a position under development could be an ideal match for your interests and capabilities.

It's worth talking to your supervisor about your professional goals and how your company might be able to support them. With hiring managers more concerned about finding and keeping talented workers, you may have more leverage than you think in negotiating a new career path or higher compensation at your present firm.

The EDGE Report found that many organizations are offering pay raises, bonuses, better benefits and more flexible schedules in order to retain their best employees.

Are you ready to take your career to the next level?

Review government data, association reports and salary surveys, such as the salary guides produced by Robert Half International or CBsalary.com, to become familiar with trends in your field.

Then compare this information with insights gained during your personal evaluation. You may find that now is the perfect time to put your talents to use in a more challenging and satisfying role.

Max Messmer is chairman and CEO of Robert Half International Inc. (RHI), the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm. Please visit www.rhi.com to access additional results from the EDGE Report.


© Copyright CareerBuilder.com 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority


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