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Job Market 2011: 4 New Studies You Can't Afford to Ignore

Efficiently cultivating your career means staying on top of the latest studies and statistics about unemployment, salaries and employee behavior. Here are four recent career-related studies you shouldn't miss -- and expert advice on how to use them to become (and stay) happily employed.

1. Survey Says: Salaries Are Increasing (Barely) In 2011, a request for a raise may not be laughed at, but results might be modest. Average salary increases are expected to hover at around 3 percent, according to a recent survey from The Conference Board.

Take action: Make sure you get your share by setting up a meeting before your annual review. "By [review time], the company has made up their mind if you are going to get more money," says career strategist J.T. O'Donnell, who wrote Careerealism: The Smart Approach to A Satisfying Career and consults with both companies and individuals. Several months before those decisions are being made, O'Donnell suggests planting the seed by asking exactly what you need to do to bump up your paycheck. "As you achieve milestones related to the goals set for the raise, drop an email to your manager outlining the accomplishment and how you did it. By the time your review comes around, you have documentation of your efforts and successes that will be proof you've earned the raise," says O'Donnell.

2. Survey Says: Long-Term Unemployment Is a Big Issue Almost 1/3 of the 14 million Americans who were on unemployment rolls in December have been there longer than a year, according to research from the Pew Charitable Trust. That's a 25 percent increase from last year - meaning some folks are waiting for jobs much, much longer than they expected.

Take action: Break out of your slump by building your brand, suggests Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0 and Founder of Millennial Branding, a full-service personal branding agency. "Employers are using search engines and social networks to locate talent and for background checks in the recruitment process. By building your online brand, with a blog/website and social network profiles, you are able to compete in the global economy," says Schawbel. Since many online profiles like LinkedIn cost nothing to set up, building your brand may take only your time - something you have in abundance now, but won't once you finally land your new gig.

3. Survey Says: Younger Employees Are Using Gmail For Work Gmail is "all good," according to post-college workers. In fact, up to 85 percent of employees under 25 are using their personal email for work-related purposes, according to research by British email management company Mimecast.

Take action: This is one trend you don't want to be part of. Using personal email for work could expose your work network to hackers and viruses, and could get you into legal hot water, says O'Donnell: "Spreadsheets and documents that are created while working for the company are considered their property. When you use a personal account and start emailing these, it could be seen as stealing should you decide to leave and go to a competitor." Particularly if attachment-size limitations or other storage issues are pushing you off Outlook, explain your concerns to the IT department to get put on a priority list for extra storage and remote access.

4. Survey Says: More People Are Tweeting for a Living More people than ever are finding jobs that involve tweeting, according to Hey, if Ashton Kutcher can build a better career out of it, why can't you?

Take action: The advice "do what you love" has never been more relevant. Whether you're unemployed or simply thinking about your next move, developing your social media skills is smart and savvy. (Except, of course, if you're Tweeting personal stuff. At work. About your boss.) Otherwise, by all means, get your geek on and watch your opportunities open up.

Have you seen any other career studies or stats that I've missed? Please sign in below and share. And for more career advice, follow @MWOnTheJob on Twitter.
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