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Is This the Year You Get a New Job?

It's not just the ranks of the unemployed who are looking for a new job. A survey from Monster and HotJobs reports that 66 percent of us who have a job are itching to a get a new and better one in 2011.

And maybe, just maybe, 2011 is the year you can land a new job. Sure, last week's December jobs report was disappointing. But that was so 2010. A survey of 28 economists by USA Today forecasts average monthly job growth of 183,000, nearly double the monthly pace in 2010. Indeed, Ford just announced it plans to add more than 7,000 jobs over the next two years, and Union Pacific and Farmers Insurance have big hiring plans in 2011 as well.
2.7 Million Jobs Up for Grabs
Yes, 2.7 million. That's the current number of jobs available at just one job-search site: Indeed.com. As MoneyWatch's Kathy Kristof reported last week, there has been a big pickup in job postings at Indeed.com the past two months, adding credence to the improved job growth economists expect.

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How to Get a New Job This Year
Kristof has timely advice for both employed and unemployed job seekers in her new series, How to Get a Great Job in a Big Hurry. Tip #1 is to make sure you first dig deep and figure out exactly what would float your boat job-wise, rather than just falling into something. And if you're in the 66 percent of folks who have a job, but want a new and better one, you should definitely check out MoneyWatch blogger Penelope Trunk's recent provocative post that suggests a new job might not necessarily be what you need.

But if you're intent on making the switch to a new job in 2011, Kristof has pulled together terrific job-search resources in 12 fields, including technology, health care, and financial services. (Links to all 12 industry-specific articles are at the bottom of Kristof's How To Get a Great Job in a Big Hurry.) In addition to perfecting your elevator pitch, you might also want to take a spin through the 25 Weirdest Job Interview Pitches of 2010 compiled by BNET's Kimberly Weisul. The more prepared you are for curveball questions, the better your odds for landing that great new job in 2011.

What to Do Once You've Gotten an Offer
Once you land a new offer, your work isn't completely done. Here's how to get the most financial gain out of making a move:

  • Push for the best salary. Do your homework before the offer comes in, so you are prepared with salary data to help you make your case for higher pay.
  • Size up the health benefits. Make sure you understand the out-of-pocket costs you'll be expected to pay in premiums, co-pays, etc. at your new job. Companies have been requiring employees to pay more for health insurance the past few years, so you don't want to be surprised that your new employer has far less generous health bennies after you've taken your job and already negotiated your salary.
  • Keep your old 401(k) growing for retirement. No matter how small the balance, do not cash out the account when you leave your job. If you have at least $5,000 invested you can typically leave it right where it is -- assuming you like the funds offered -- or you can do an IRA Rollover.
  • Make sure you're saving enough in your new 401(k). Many companies now automatically enroll new employees in the 401(k). That's good news. But be careful here. Most firms also automatically set your contribution rate at a low 3 percent of salary. Even with a company match, that's not nearly high enough; you typically want to be setting aside 10 to 15 percent of your salary for retirement. So check in with HR and get your contribution rate ramped up immediately.
  • Closed out of the 401(k)? Focus on an IRA. Many employers don't let new hires into the 401(k) for six months to a year. If you don't already contribute to an IRA, set up an account ASAP and have money automatically transferred from your bank checking account into the IRA. You can't afford to take a six month or year-long vacation from saving for retirement.

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