With declining 401(K) accounts, job sharing and cutbacks, there's a good chance the recession may has ruined your career plans. A recession may be a dicey time to ask for a promotion, but it's certainly a perfect moment to get positioned for an ascent up the corporate ladder. As the economy continues to heal, here are six tips to allow you to shine in your boss's eye and be a top candidate for recognition come the year-end review. (For a related reading, see What Makes A Good Boss?)

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Ask What Needs to be Done
It sounds like a no-brainer, but quiz your boss on what is the most important way you can spend your time and then make those tasks a priority, suggests Steve Langerud, director of professional opportunities at DePauw University. By tackling the objectives that your boss holds in high esteem, you'll naturally be in a better spot to get attention and praise for your work.

Demonstrate Your Value
Forget what your job description says, create an action plan for how you can be doing your job better, says Mary Hladio, founder of Ember Carriers Leadership Group. Consult your boss and other leaders within the organization for their input, and put the ideas in motion.

Be a Team Player
Shaunti Feldhahn, author of "The Male Factor," says high-level managers of both sexes want to know that their employees are on board with the team, especially at critical moments. "In a demanding period, you want to make sure you are sharing the same pain," she says. For example, this might mean staying late for a meeting or pitching in on a company-wide initiative. (For more, see 7 Tips For Staying Off The Chopping Block.)


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Brief Your Boss
Even if it's not part of your job requirements or you haven't been asked to do it, voluntarily offer your boss reports on your progress, says former Human Resources trainer, Mimi Donaldson. "Bosses are busy," she says. "You cannot expect them to notice when you do something great." But a routine email summing up your day-to-day accomplishments and where you stand on major projects is an influential way to keep your boss informed without monopolizing time.

Network Like You're Unemployed
Langerud also advises reaching out to colleagues in other departments and requesting their feedback on how you can help them be more effective. Around the company, it will only improve your reputation, he says, and it will likely get circulated back to your boss that you are a problem-solver and a dedicated worker. (Learn more in 4 Career Networking Tips That Work.)

Be Heard and Seen
It's not about gossiping around the water cooler every morning, but finding subtle, yet powerful, routes to contribute to your firm. For instance, it may be presenting a strong, thoughtful point in a meeting, or sharing innovative ideas up the ranks about ways to improve your company's operation. Plus, being seen at company events, such as holiday parties and other social gatherings, volunteer activities and corporate retreats, shows you care about your job.

The Bottom Line
Not only is the job market more competitive in recessionary times, it's also getting increasingly difficult to get a raise. That's because the pool of money corporations reserve for rewarding staff - even the most stellar of employees - is shrinking. According to a survey by the business research organization The Conference Board, the average company is only budgeting 2.8% for wage increases in 2010, a number that hasn't dipped under 3% in more than two decades. The current work environment demands that you must stand out in your boss's mind if you want to get a bump in your salary or a promotion. (For more tips, check out Can't Get A Raise? Negotiate Your Benefits.)

Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: G20 Leader Spats And China Fakes It.

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