Many of us have probably been getting the sneaking suspicion that the job market is improving, and here's another hint. Today, Korn/Ferry (NYSE:KFY), an executive search firm, reported fourth-quarter earnings that reversed its loss this time last year.

Korn/Ferry reported earnings of $0.21 per share, or $8.7 million, as compared to a loss of $0.05 per share, or $2.0 million, in the same quarter last year. Fee revenue increased 28% to $97.7 million. Hardly surprising, Korn/Ferry touted this quarter as the highest earnings per share number since the fourth quarter of 2001 -- about the time the job market really took a turn for the worse.

A quick check of the company's conference call (transcript courtesy of CCBN StreetEvents) also shows Korn/Ferry's expansion into international markets, including what it describes as strength in the undeniably hot markets of China, India, and Singapore.

It said that it expects the global job market to continue to improve during the following quarters, and it foresees a profit of $0.12 to $0.17 per share in the upcoming first quarter.

With hints of an improving job market, it's a no-brainer to think of the investment possibilities in the companies that link job seekers and businesses and what those firms are doing to capitalize on the upswing and steal market share from rivals. (NASDAQ:MNST) recently said it planned to increase its advertising spending to play into a market where there's building enthusiasm to recruit or be recruited.

Meanwhile, Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ:YHOO) HotJobs hasn't been sitting around quietly either. It recently launched HotJobs Information Technology Center, through which it said it would tap the $200 million IT recruitment advertising market.

However, Korn/Ferry's more specific competitors in executive recruitment are Heidrick & Struggles (NASDAQ:HSII), Egon Zehnder, and Russell Reynolds. Heidrick & Struggles has recently shown a similar reversal of fortune, in terms of changing a loss into a profit. To a certain extent, the improving economy floats all boats.

Given its much-better-than-anticipated results, it's not surprising that Korn/Ferry shares, though thinly traded, hit a new high today -- and much like the earnings, they hit their highest levels in three years. It stands to reason that pure plays in recruitment easily sink or swim according to the whims of the marketplace. Do your homework and definitely think twice before jumping into such a stock, unless you're steeled to ride the high times -- and the low.

Now that the job picture seems to be improving, are you ready to look for a better gig? Check out our Ask the Headhunter board for some timely advice.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.