More than five million people have lost their jobs in this recession, which means competition for work is stiff. Meanwhile, many manufacturing jobs are never coming back and folks in those industries may have to retrain to have any hope of earning a good living again. So consider using your refund to go back to school or earn certification in a trade. "This kind of education really pays you back," says Clare Stenstrom, a financial planner with the Sudden Money Institute. If you are working, she advises visiting your company's human resources department to find out what course work, seminars or training would qualify you for a higher pay rate. Meanwhile, a whole range of professionals from teachers and certain government workers to financial planners, real estate agents and massage therapists command higher pay when they get official certification. It might be worth the expense to consult with a career coach or have your resume done professionally. The cost is about $150 and hour for one-on-one service but you can get help online at Vault.com for a one-time fee of less than $200.
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