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Check index, choose carefully

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High unemployment is causing a rush to bookstores for ''how to'' books on finding jobs. Publishers are obliging with a bunch of snappy new titles and books with a ''directory'' look, plus updating old standards with ''enlarged,'' ''revised,'' and ''1982 edition'' stamped in big letters on the covers.

There are a few gems, but many are woefully out of touch with the millions in unemployment lines today. The only ones solving income problems with such books are the authors. Of course, books don't sell to people who are destitute, so perhaps we shouldn't be disappointed that the unskilled or those whose skills go begging in the face of factory closings or the standstill construction industry are virtually ignored. The book for them is yet to be written.

Most job-find books aim at the educated (or those who can afford to get educated), the professions, or people with time and at least a little money to pick and choose, change careers, open their own businesses, enter the work force after college, or reenter it after time out for families.

For this group, there is abundant help. Each book has its own ''strategy,'' and, while the terminology differs, the themes are the same: self-analysis (who am I?), decisionmaking (where to live? how much to earn?), figuring out what training and education are needed, and then - and only then - how to go about doing it.

Strategy experts tend to be pompous, and some of their advice is downright silly. But it's true that when confidence ebbs and times are tough, a pep talk helps, and that's what most strategy books offer. Also, being a brilliant scholar or technician doesn't always include the ability to write a convincing resume, so examples to copy are lifesavers.


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