According to a job research company's analysis, the jobless rate might dip to 9.6% by end of this year. Despite the severe downturn, employees could still get a small raise. Nearly half of large companies froze salaries in 2009, but just 13% intend to do so in 2010.
In order to survive and do well in a corporate environment, below are some action plans you might want to take.
1. Be more visible in your company
Working hard and keeping your head down won't prevent you from becoming a layoff target. To secure your position and get a decent raise, you not only need to excel at what you do, you have to make sure your boss and other higher-ups notice.
Seek out high-profile or cross-department assignments, actively contribute at meetings with senior colleagues, and volunteer to take on additional responsibilities -- an especially valuable tactic now, with so many fewer employees around to handle the work load.
2. Negotiate your bonus
Raises will average just 2.7% this year -- the first time in more than 30 years that average pay hikes will fall below 3% for two years in a row, according to Hewitt reports. Earn a reputation as a top performer and you may get more: The highest-rated workers will get an average boost of 4.8% in 2010.
If your company is among those still freezing base pay, try instead to negotiate a bonus tied to key, quantifiable company objectives: 86% of organizations have some kind of short-term incentive pay program linked to financial goals, operational performance, or customer satisfaction.
3. Restore the salary reduction
Although a pay cut is better than a job cut, still if your hours were reduced or your salary slashed, it is time to start thinking about when and how to get that money back.
First read the tea leaves: Have profits improved at your company? Have layoffs stopped and hiring started? If so, the timing may be right. Prepare examples to prove you're deserving -- showing, say, you've taken on extra duties, worked longer hours, or slashed costs. Then ask your boss for a salary review!
4. Time to get active in your job search
The average job search now takes 27 weeks. Expand your job search options by looking at employers in different but related industries or different positions in the same field. Lower your salary expectations.
5. Prepare for job loss
Even if your job seems secure, it is still wise to beef up your emergency fund, identify expenses you could cut.
Update your resume and start reconnecting with folks in your professional network. Join industry forums, and seek endorsements on LinkedIn. And if a friend or colleague is laid off and turns to you for advice, assistance, or just to vent, be there for him or her. One day your pal may be in a position to recommend or hire you!