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17 steps to a bigger paycheck

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8. Seek advancement at your current job. "The easiest way to move up is in your current organization," says Ellis.

9. Stand out. One reason it can help to have an MBA? "You differentiate yourself," says Yate. "It's a badge that says, 'I can do new things.'"

A big plus in big business: languages. "People who have experience in language and culture are very much in demand," says Ellis.

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10. Keep ahead of the game. If you think you (or your job) will be eliminated, laid off or outsourced, get moving now. Waiting will not make it better. Launch a job search "from a cold start, and it takes seven or eight weeks to get up to speed," says Yate.

11. Become an expert. It's old advice, but it's more relevant than ever, say career coaches. Whether it's a critical language, new regulations or a complicated computer program, find an area in your company or industry where there is a knowledge gap and become the expert on that topic.

12. Look for career opportunities that can't be outsourced. What do chefs, hair dressers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians have in common? We'll always need those professionals locally, says Yate.

13. Realize that the only constant is change. Gone are the days when you worked for one company for 50 years, climbed the ladder and received a gold watch at retirement. Today people change jobs every four to five years and have several careers during their lifetimes. Gear up for a career change a year or two in advance. That gives you time to get any needed training or education and supplement any skills or experience you might need.

14. Have a life beyond the job. Get involved in community sports, hobbies and charity activities. "Not only is it good for you professionally, it's good for you as a human being," says Yate. Too many people allow themselves to become isolated by long hours at work. "That's not healthy," he says.

15. Stay plugged in at work. Once you've decided to leave a job, it's easy to just check out mentally. Mistake. Instead, this is when you want to be at your best. Stay on top of industry developments, news and trends. Network with your contacts. Keep your skills sharp with continuing education or additional certification. Continue adding to the skills that will make you valuable at your job and in the job market.

16. Those who can, teach. No matter what your field, your resume is stronger if you can also teach or train others, says Yate. In addition, teaching offers steady income and flexibility for executives who want to take a breather, are facing layoffs or are between jobs, he says.

17. Be an entrepreneur. The two big concerns as baby boomers near retirement are outsourcing and age discrimination, says Yate. Whether you're facing layoffs, playing "beat the clock" or are just sick of your commute and the 9-to-5 grind, look for opportunities to work independently. You can view these projects as extra income, turn them into a steady sideline or even use them to create your own golden parachute. Says Yate, "Whatever your profession, treat every job as on-the-job training for your own business someday."

See also: "Who makes the big money?"

Bankrate.com's corrections policy-- Posted: Nov. 29, 2006
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