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Staying sharp in an easy-win age

Job fairs today must look like stock-exchange floors during a buying frenzy.

Talent is a hotter commodity than technology stock. For many fresh-faced grads, job offers seem to come rolled up in the diploma.

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Techie types feed one workforce need. But the trend is broader. With 6,000 projected hires, Enterprise Rent-A-Car leads the list of American companies harvesting from the class of 2000. Big consultancies also plan heavy hiring.

Four years into a power-to-the-employee phenomenon, where job growth outpaced worker supply, there seems to be more to crow about: Half of college grads now have jobs lined up before graduation day, says the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

About a third of grads expect more than four job offers upon graduation, says a Jobtrak poll.

Somewhere a social scientist must be pondering the effect of that swelling sense of entitlement. Or what it costs a "service economy" to be staffed by quick hires who don't fret about losing work.

Once job-seekers were demure. Now they're demanding. But for how long? Last week, the unemployment rate rose to 4.1 percent after a month in which businesses lost 116,000 jobs, the biggest one-month hit in almost nine years.

For a little perspective, look at the land of the sliding euro: In France and Germany, a tenth of the workforce remains jobless.

In Japan the ranks of the unemployed hit 3 million for the first time last year. Three more years of cutbacks are predicted by the Labor Ministry.

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Elsewhere, workers still strain just to organize, says a sobering new report from the International Labor Organization.

New workers might want to hone an edge for leaner times.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society