Monday, November 21, 2005

Your Job: 3 Ideas for 2006

On November 15th, Money Magazine posted an article noting three things to do in 2006 to put your career in good stead.

I disagree with all three (my comments in blue), but who am I to disagree with such experts, eh?

Move No. 1: Don't ask for a big raise.

Increases will be modest in 2006. Ask for a bonus instead. "Companies are willing to reward performance through incentives and bonuses," says Steven Gross of HR consultant Mercer. Fifty-five percent use spot cash awards and signing bonuses.

You've got to be kidding. What the heck, take a chance? Is the increase deserved? Will you lose your job just for asking for a big raise? Not if you're a rock star. Ask for the increase and present a detailed justification as to why it is deserved. If they turn you down, you might be in a better position to negotiate for a larger bonus.

Move No. 2: Get a better gig.

Recruiters say the fields below will be in high demand for 2006 and beyond. If you have relevant skills, get the training you need to make a switch. If you're already in one of these areas, you've got bargaining power.Retirement planning Aging boomers need financial advisers and tax lawyers.Health care Constant change means work for benefit-plan administrators and information technology specialists. Auditing Increased scrutiny of corporate books requires more accountants.

I disagree. The grass isn't always greener...yeah, yeah, I know it's an old cliche'. But if you are unhappy in your current role, you owe it to yourself to get to the root cause of the dissatisfaction. It's not always about the money.

Move No. 3: Get an M.B.A. on the IRS.

Historically, it's been difficult to deduct the cost of an M.B.A. from your taxes, but a 2005 ruling by the U.S. Tax Court improves your chances.You can write off the cost of your tuition, but only if the degree "improves and enhances" your ability to perform in the job you have. You don't have to stay at your current company to get the tax break, but you'll lose the deduction if you quit to go to school full time or you use the M.B.A. to change careers.

Again, I disagree. Just because you can potentially write off the cost of an MBA on the IRS, doesn't mean you should get an MBA. What will be the return on your investment? Does it have relevance to your specialty? Is it a guarantee to a good/better job? An MBA, like any other kind of training, is helpful, but only if the new knowledge, training, and opportunities it creates are in line with your career aspirations.

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