You can make more money during 2013

For the first time in years, we can anticipate a new year with optimism – even if it’s cautious optimism.

Promising reasons for 2013 cheer include: unemployment edging below 8 percent; salaries rising about 3 percent, according to Robert Half’s 2013 Salary Guides; and real estate rebounding.

If you are aiming to make more money in 2013, be ready to look for and seize new employment opportunities.

Here are three key moves to prepare yourself for a positive and more prosperous change:

Be ready to switch firms.

Learn all you can.

Decide what you want to do.

While many employers are eager to hang on to their top talent and willing to pay to do so, you may need to change companies or departments to maximize a pay increase. Or you can leverage an offer from a new firm to get your employer to see your true value.

A note of caution here: Don’t try this unless you are really willing to leave your current company, or you may end up regretting your bluff.

If you decide you are willing to change jobs, you should:

Focus on growing companies. Look for firms that are advertising more than one job opening. Websites such as Indeed.com and CareerBuilder.com can make your search faster.

If you have industry-specific skills, research industry associations and industry-specific websites listing jobs.

Once you find a potential job, use personal contacts to get your résumé into the hands of the hiring manager.

This can be your key to getting an interview – and a job. LinkedIn, Facebook and personal, word-of-mouth recommendations are all avenues to making this critical contact.

Allow your preliminary job search to inform you about the skills needed for jobs you are targeting.

Now is the time to get up to speed on new skills and sharpen skills used in your current job. If you have been disengaged at work lately, you may have let your skills lapse.

Competition for the job you want will be tough. You aren’t the only one looking for greener pastures and a pay increase. So be creative in thinking about what’s next. Now may be the time for you to decide what you really want to do.

More and more, there are opportunities to take your skills and apply them in entirely new ways.

I know an actor, tired of being a starving artist, who now uses the skills of his craft to help companies get the most out of social media.

These trained professionals can help companies that are using acting, writing and video production to market their products.

A leap of this sort can not only lead to a higher income, but to greater job satisfaction. Turns out, this actor discovered he loved teaching as much as acting. Without his bold move, which looked like giving up his dream, he would have never found this meaningful opportunity.

Whatever your path, know that keeping your talents sharp, seeking job satisfaction and a willingness to switch companies are all natural elements in the landscape of today’s economy.

matt.kelly.durango@gmail.com Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.PersonalFinanceCoaching.com.