As the job market improves, employees begin poking around for flexible benefitsSince you\u2019ve been head-down doing the jobs of three former colleagues for the past two years, you might have missed the headlines. Three-hundred thousand new jobs created in March. Weekly jobless claims hit all-time low. Small business hiring jumps 25% in the first quarter.So the job market is loosening up. Think it\u2019s time to start looking for a job with more flexible benefits like telework, or to push your manager or HR department for them? You\u2019ve not alone.\u00a0\u00a0\u201cThe job search boards are getting more traffic, so are the placement agencies. And money isn\u2019t the big deciding factor, either. People want flexible benefits,\u201d says Phil Montero, workplace consultant and author of the e-book: "Work at Home: The Telework Job Seeker\u2019s Handbook". \u201cPeople are e-mailing me all the time now asking how to find a telework job. And the book\u2019s selling better, too.\u201d\u00a0Smart companies realize the best way to head off an employee exodus is offer the flexible benefits workers were afraid to ask for in a down market. \u201cIf you\u2019re looking for a telework job, look inside your own company first where you\u2019re a known entity,\u201d Montero says.\u201cAs the jobs start opening up, employers have to start waking up,\u201d says Gil Gordon, telework consultant and former HR executive at Johnson & Johnson. \u201cHowever, I think the definition of \u2018waking up\u2019 will vary widely since employers are hardly ever out in front of hiring trends.\u201dOne such wake-up call just came down from the EPA. According to\u00a0new ozone rules\u00a0unveiled April 15, 474 of the nation\u2019s 2,700 counties (one in five) have unacceptable levels of ground-level ozone. About 159 million Americans live in them, many driving back and forth to jobs they can do at home.\u00a0The 31 failing states need to submit fog reduction plans to EPA in three years, with each state\u2019s compliance deadline tied to the severity of its smog. (California gets until 2021, other less smoggy states have until 2007 or 2009.)If your employer shrugs at the EPA, others will use the ruling as a justification for stepping up telework. Since most companies \u2014 certainly the best employers \u2014 don\u2019t advertise telework jobs, it\u2019s safe to bypass the telework-specific job boards, especially those that make you pay for leads. Although most companies want you to work on site for a year or two before teleworking, Montero says he\u2019s seeing companies more frequently ask for only three months. Learn to read between the lines of job descriptions; look for companies that offer flexible benefits, make it onto Top 100 company lists for families, etc. Also, target companies that make the EPA\u2019s\u00a0Best Workplaces for Commuters\u00a0list.For more guidance, Montero\u2019s e-book ($20) walks you through finding legitimate telework jobs, offering strategies for searching the job boards and avoiding scams. He\u2019s in the midst of updating the book and changing its name to \u201cLose the Commute.\u201d The new version will be available this month.Readers: Let me know whether you\u2019re planning a job move, whether your company offers flexible benefits, or is changing its hiring practices.