4 Common Career Questions This Year

As 2010 unfolds, it's natural to think about your career and what the future has in store. Whether you're unemployed and looking for a job, currently working but considering a new opportunity or hoping for a raise, the year ahead likely holds many questions. Fear not! Here are answers to several of the most common career-related queries today's professionals have:

"I'd like a raise. Is it OK to ask for one?"

Let common sense dictate whether or not you ask for a salary increase. If your firm recently announced decreased profits or continues to reduce budgets, it's probably not the best time to ask. However, if your company is on solid financial ground, it may be safe to do so.

When meeting with your manager, make a case for why you deserve a bump in pay, based on your performance, not personal needs. As much as possible, quantify the value of your contributions to the company. Also know what the going rate is for someone with your skills and experience by reviewing government data, trade association reports and compensation surveys. If your manager rejects your request, ask for a roadmap outlining the steps you must take to reach your target salary.

"I don't like my job. Is it a good time to leave?"

Yes and no. Although the U.S. unemployment rate remains high, and some firms are still reducing the size of their workforce, there are bright spots in the employment market. Highly skilled tax accountants, credit managers, network administrators, system engineers, and executive assistants, for instance, may have more opportunities than those in fields where the demand is lower.

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