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It's Never Too Early to Design a Job

Bargaining for the job you want "is happening right out of the gate now" as college graduates get their first jobs, says career expert Bruce Tulgan.

In today's tight labor market, young workers have some leverage with employers - and a fresh, entrepreneurial attitude that makes them unafraid to ask for new responsibilities.

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"They have such a sense of their need to keep adding skills, meeting people, and gathering proof of their ability to add value," says Mr. Tulgan, founder of RainmakerThinking, a New Haven, Conn., research firm.

"One of the things we hear over and over again [from young workers] is 'I've been here five years, but I've had nine jobs," he says. His advice to starters who want to be self-starters:

* Don't settle for narrow tasks.

* Don't be pigeonholed.

* Work for several bosses at once.

* Keep lists of work that needs doing, decisionmakers you'd like to work with, and other opportunities. Then propose new assignments.

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