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Executive job hunting is an industry in itself

If you're a manager looking for work, which of the following will be the most helpful in getting your next job? 1. A professionally written resume, sent to a list of companies selected by a computer.

2. Your former college roommate, who runs a consulting business.

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3. The want ads.

4. A crash course in how to woo the people who will be interviewing you.

Although ''all of the above'' could help you land a job, the last one is the most important. At least, that's the opinion of Kevin R. Daley, president of Communispond Inc., a company specializing in personal communications.

''A person gets a job,'' says Mr. Daley, ''as a result of the job interview, when the potential employer says, 'I'd like to work with this person.' ''

Getting to that point is not easy. But a number of firms help executives reach this goal. Companies such as Communispond, which work in the ''outplacement'' field, have developed sophisticated methods for job seekers. Outplacement firms find jobs for employees who have been fired or laid off.

The task of training a job seeker is made even harder because clients of outplacement companies are individuals who have been laid-off, fired, or squeezed out of a job because of a recent merger. ''What we are asked to do,'' says John N. McCormick, senior vice-president of Drake Beam Morin, ''is to help a person make a transition in traumatic circumstances when he or she has been released from one position so they will get a good position elsewhere.''

The major companies in the business include Drake Beam Morin, based in New York; Hay Associates in Philadelphia; THINC Career Planning Corporation in New York; Fuchs, Cuthrell in New York; and Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Although Communispond is new in the business, it recently acquired Executive Consultants, a Westchester, N.Y., firm with previous experience in outplacement.

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The industry, estimated to have revenues of $100 million in 1980, is growing rapidly, particularly as corporate mergers consolidate headquarters staffs and the slow business climate prompts streamlining moves. Industry sources conservatively estimate the business is growing 20 percent per year.

The outplacement companies are paid by the corporation the individual is leaving and although fees vary, a typical fee is 15 percent of the candidate's previous year's compensation. This fee includes the cost of all materials and out-of-pocket expenses.

In return for this fee individuals often come away with a new job. Sometimes they don't. At Communispond, Joseph C. McIntyre, the founder of Executive Consultants, says he knows of only four executives out of 600 clients he has handled who didn't find jobs after a search. Mr. McCormick says his firm usually sticks with an executive until the individual gets a job.

When a recently dumped executive arrives at Communispond, says Mr. Daley, he or she stunned. ''In spite of all the obvious signs,'' explains Mr. Daley, ''a person doesn't expect to be let go. The anger wells up and they ventilate it, asking, 'How could the company be so stupid as to let me go?' '' Communispond tries to absorb this negative thrust and start the person off on a more productive course.

This new course will take them on what Daley calls the ''90-day dash.'' The company literally outlines a program for the person that begins with an in-depth interview and video tape ''benchmark'' job interview and ends with helping the person decide what job to take.

''Everyday, there is something to do,'' says Daley, ''looking for a job is a full-time activity and requires constant motivation.''

However, before the job offers start arriving, the executive receives a lot of help. For example, Communispond and the candidate draft the letters that are sent to potential employers. A typical letter addressed to a potential employer includes the words integrity, initiative, success, experience, and achievement. ''We look for the characteristics that are needed for the job the person is seeking,'' says Jo Lynn Wein, an associate at Communispond. Out of 200 letters mailed, Communispond says the individual can expect eight positive replies granting an initial job interview.

At the same time, the executive is taught how to use ''networking,'' that is, employing old friends and contacts in the job search.

Communispond also puts together the job seeker's resume. The point of the resume, explains John Brinckerhoff, senior vice-president at Communispond, is to get you to the interview and to leave a memory of your accomplishments.

But the most important thing Communispond does, Mr. Brinckerhoff says, is prepare the individual for the job interview. Job seekers quickly learn Communispond has three basic rules, termed ''ZAP,'' for job interviewing: ''Zeroing'' in on the interviewer's needs, ''Asking'' lots of questions, and ''Providing'' short, positive answers.

To get the individuals to use the ZAP method and improve their interviewing techniques, Communispond puts them in front of a TV camera and films their responses. The company teaches physical skills such as how to sit; how to appear animated but relaxed; and how to dress. ''The first 30 seconds of an interview are critical,'' comments Brinckerhoff, ''so physical things are important.''

To get candidates ready for the interview, Communispond asks them to write down 10 vignettes, or short stories, about contributions they have made in their previous place of employment. These help bolster confidence and prepare for interviews. Communispond also draws up what they consider to be five embarrassing questions. The individual has to be prepared for everything ranging from salary to political questions. If asked about salary, a candidate is encouraged to try to avoid answering the question. ''Once the company knows your previous salary, they can either disqualify you as either too low or too high for the job they are looking to fill,'' notes Brinckerhoff, adding, ''they also won't offer you any more than 20 percent over what you were making previously.''

''The ultimate goal is to control the interview and get a job,'' says Brinckerhoff.

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