Looking for a job is itself work. Therefore ''think of your job-hunt workplace as your temporary office or headquarters,'' advises the staff of Catalyst, a national nonprofit organization ''dedicated to expanding career and family options for women.''
They should know what they're talking about. Since Catalyst was founded in 1962 it has helped nearly a million women further their careers. In an effort to help even more women, the staff has recently published some of its practical suggestions in ''When Can You Start? The Complete Job-Search Guide for Women of All Ages'' (New York: Macmillan, $9.95).
A job-hunting headquarters should have office supplies and postage for writing letters and mailing resumes, as well as access to a telephone and typewriter. Job hunters also need file folders and daily ''to do'' lists for organizing the details of a job hunt.
Organizing work space is just the beginning of organizing a job hunt, however. It is essential to organize time and set priorities. Most important, the staff advises, ''schedule frequent blocks of time specifically for your job hunt.'' If there are young children, arrange to trade child care with a friend to allow an hour or two of uninterrupted time each day.
But the Catalyst staff also point out that ''looking for a job is not a 24 -hour-a-day project -- any more than having a job is.'' They suggest job hunters make a special effort to do things they enjoy. Reading paperback thrillers, putting up new kitchen curtains, even buying a pet will keep applicants from focusing too exclusively on the hunt. Another possibility is taking a part-time job or an academic course, if necessary, to avoid too much ''sitting around an empty apartment.''
A second new Catalyst book, ''Upward Mobility: A Comprehensive Career Advancement Plan for Women Determined to Succeed in the Working World'' (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, $15.95), details how to get ahead once a woman has a job.
Visibility in her company, her profession, and her community can all help a woman advance. A person who gets things done is identified as someone on the way up. ''If you're behind the scenes, then the job gets done 'mysteriously,' '' the authors point out. ''Once you become known as the person who does that job well and is willing to do more and grow, then you pretty much have won that battle. Then you are sought out.''
One way to achieve visibility, the book points out, is to ''become an active member of your industry or professional organization,'' where you'll meet other people in your field. ''This strategy is virtually guaranteed to move you up swiftly via the job-hopping route. In essence, it is the ticket, not necessarily to the top of your present company, but to the top of your field. If your peers know who you are, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the business world -- and the executive recruiters -- will take notice.''
Becoming well known in an organization can be a little trickier, particularly if the organization is large. However, writing articles for a company newsletter or magazine will get an employee's name known.
Catalyst's final word for ambitious women is encouraging: ''No matter how awful or dead-end a job may seem, you can always turn it to some use'' on your way up.