Job hunting? This `training manual' can help

Anyone who has tried searching for a job among the Sunday want ads and suspected that the good jobs are hiding elsewhere should read The Right Place at the Right Time: Finding the Right Job in the New Economy, by Robert Wegmann and Robert Chapman (Ten Speed Press, $9.95). ``About 30 percent of the country's jobs come open in any given year,'' the authors report, but only one job out of every 7 is filled through the want ads. Even fewer are filled by employment agencies. Employers tend to use these avenues as a last resort. The authors say that the largest share of jobs, including the most desirable ones, are filled by the informal, word-of-mouth approach.

How to find these hidden opportunities and meet the people with the power to hire you is what effective job hunting is all about. But most of us, despite the fact that we will change jobs several times in our lifetime, don't know how to go about it.

``The Right Place at the Right Time'' is a training manual for this essential adult survival skill. If you're frustrated with the r'esum'e-mailing, pavement-pounding school of job searching, this is a book worth looking into. It takes much of the drudgery out of the hunt, and puts some adventure in, by turning it into an information hunt. Wegmann and Chapman maintain that the better you are at finding information, the faster and more successful you'll be at finding the right job for you.

The first section, one of the book's most valuable, gives an overview of the changes in the American labor market and the forces that determine what kinds of work will be available in years to come. Some readers may find a few surprises here - for instance, the large proportion of new jobs being created in smaller businesses, rather than large corporations.

Section 2 discusses you. Most people don't fully appreciate all their strong points or don't think of them as being work-related. The exercises in this section are designed to help you discover your skills, talents, and interests. The ``Quick Job-Hunting Map,'' a popular tool for first-time job-seekers or career-changers, is included here.

Section 3 talks about employers. Here is where you get the lowdown on the ``hidden'' jobs, and how to match your abilities and interests to the kinds of jobs available in today's market. The authors list two dozen types of references and directories helpful for information hunting, along with a brief explanation of each.

The last two sections are about interviewing people before they interview you. This is a guide to the informal, referral approach to hiring that is preferred by most companies. But tips and cautions for using the want ads or employment agencies are also offered, as are guidelines on the different types of r'esum'es right for these times. Just in case the book leaves any of your questions unanswered (not a likely possibility), the chapter notes at the end list a wealth of current books on job hunting, with comments on their usefulness.

``The Right Place at the Right Time'' grew out of a college-level career development course taught by Professor Wegmann. Each chapter finishes with several case studies to illustrate the methods. For group leaders who want suggestions on handling these topics in a group setting, the publisher also offers an Instructor's Manual.

``The Right Place'' does have one minor flaw: It gets long-winded in spots and doesn't have the lively wit of, say, ``What Color Is Your Parachute'' - probably the most widely used job-hunting manual ever published (also by Ten Speed Press). But it is just as user-friendly and in many ways more thorough than ``Parachute.'' It has all the makings to become a classic in its own right.

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