Think Before You Jump

The job market is hot.

Companies from accounting firms to softwaremakers need new staff; they dangle money and flexibility to bring people on board.

But before you go for the gold, take a deep breath. Avoid the frenzy of the moment. Changing jobs is a big decision.

"Good market, bad market, you need to evaluate the reasons you're making a job change," says John Spencer, managing director of recruiting firm Source Services in Los Angeles.

He and other recruiters increasingly see workers who change jobs, then change them again a few weeks or months later.

They suggest asking yourself three questions:

* How much do you enjoy your work?

* Does your workplace suit your personality?

* Do you like your co-workers, your boss?

And if "money" is the answer to the questions, think again.

"Wherever you make a move, you've got to be showing some progress," says Marilyn Moats Kennedy, a career strategist in Wilmette, Ill.

"It makes no sense to run to your company's competitor for a little more money" and the same job title, she says.

If you are underpaid, and you like where you work, she says, approach your boss about adjusting your salary to current market levels.

Career counselors also warn against job-jumping in reaction to a situation at work.

"People will get a new boss they don't click with and say, 'Gosh I've got to bail,' " says Mary McIsaac, director of the Center for Life & Work Planning in Encinitas, Calif.

"But that's more reactive than reflective," she warns, and can hurt your career.

Still want to jump? Some resource help:

* "Job-Hunting on the Internet" (Ten Speed Press), by Richard Nelson Bolles.

* "101 Great Rsums," by Career Press Editors. Step-by-step rsum writing, plus examples by profession and situation (laid-off manager, job-hopper, coming out of retirement).

* "The Only Job Hunting Guide You'll Ever Need" (Fireside), by Kathryn and Ross Petras. is an excellent Web site to learn rsum writing and posting on the Internet.

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