So many people are hopping from job to job that the American labor market is beginning to look like a French bedroom farce. Or one big temp agency.

There's a lusty demand for smart, skilled people, and headhunters have seldom been busier.

Says Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants: "Right now there's a great shortage of really outstanding people as we change from the old economy to the new economy. There will continue to be a demographic shortage of men and women of the right age with the right talents."

Thus, if you want a better job, you will never have a greater opportunity.

What you need to do, particularly if you're a manager or a techie, is to become noticed by the headhunters -- get on the short lists of executive recruiters who troll for talent.

As a first step, brush up your resume and send it to a variety of recruiters, particularly the largest and most powerful ones. The Big Five are Heidrick and Struggles, Korn Ferry, Spencer Stuart, Russell Reynolds and Egon Zehnder.

That cold-call resume tactic might not have worked so well a few years ago, but now recruiters are so eager to find talent that they're casting a wider net, and paying more attention to over-the-transom resumes.

To plump up your resume, become active in professional groups in your field, and attend industry conferences. The headhunters often attend too, looking hungrily for stars. You can approach a recruiter, introduce yourself and volunteer to help supply some names if he or she has a search going on in your field.

And if you're ever invited to give a public speech or write an article or get a profile of yourself on your employer's Web site, seize the opportunity; in fact, volunteer for it. All these activities gain you attention.

Try also, at the place where you now work, to get into a position where you really run something, no matter how small. That's the surest way to show demonstrable results and become recognized.

You're better off being transferred to run a troubled operation than a successful one because, if you turn the failing operation around, you become a hero.

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