2 MBA Matters
Does the degree matter anymore? There's the blunt question, but don't expect a blunt answer. The reality? It depends. Here's what Downs, a principal at Paradigm Staffing, says: "An MBA isn't as important as experience, but it also has to be said that some companies still value an MBA."

Neil Lebovits, president and chief operating officer of global recruiter Ajilon Professional Staffing, elaborates: "It's always better to have an MBA than not, but it's not the necessity it was a few years ago [when companies could be very picky about hiring]. Not having an MBA won't be the deal breaker it was two years ago."

Still, MBAs are being heavily recruited these days. New York recruiter Thomas Fuller says, "We are seeing an uptick in MBA recruiting. Those coming out of top schools are having no problems getting jobs."

But the ticket to the fastest ride, whisper recruiters, is coupling an MBA with relevant, tangible, measurable, on-the-job accomplishments. Flaunt an MBA with proven profit-center successes, and that is a nearly irresistible combination.

3 Open Book
Get ready to be known - closely, intimately, minutely. That's the news from Bill Coleman, senior vice president at Salary.com. When companies hire today, they want no surprises. Background checks, credit checks, detailed reference checks - all are happening with a new vigor.

"Some companies are being paranoid about whom they hire," says Coleman. Others are just methodical. Either way, expect to be dissected before you get an offer.

4 Just Right
Don't hang up when a recruiter mentions a company you've never heard of. Not too big and not too small, midsize companies and even privately owned businesses are suddenly highly desirable among job seekers, says Bruce Bailey, an executive with RSM McGladrey, an HR consulting firm that specializes in the middle market. With increased regulatory scrutiny of Fortune 500 companies, coupled with the merger fever that has gripped megacorporations, smaller businesses are looking like safe harbors.

5 Take My Spouse - Please
Spousal relocation benefits are a reality in the era of two-income families, says Chris Lewis, a partner in the private equity firm Riordan, Lewis & Haden. When wooing a senior executive for a client company, his firm often will help a trailing spouse secure employment. But see the next point.