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Hearing it through the grapevine: the team approach to job-hunting

You can increase your effectiveness in locating job opportunities by putting a team to work on your behalf. Several pairs of eyes and ears will generate more job possibilities in a short time than you can think of alone. So it makes sense to establish your own information network. This network, or grapevine, will have access to information you cannot obtain by yourself.

To begin with, get rid of the notion that being out of a job is somehow a disgrace. Then you feel freer to approach people for their help. Keep in mind that everybody who now holds a job was once out of a job. You have nothing to feel inferior or disgraced about. It happens to all of us, especially to politicians and corporate presidents.

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How do you establish this network? First, make a list of friends, relatives, neighbors, and business acquaintances who might be in a position to learn about openings for your kind of work. These will be your basic information network.

Keep in mind that you are going to ask for information. You are not going to plead for a job or beg for sympathy, which would dry up your contacts faster than anything else you can do. Further, you are not going to ask that your friends recommend you for the job. Let them think of this possibility themselves. What you want at present are tips.

Second, decide exactly what kind of work you are seeking. After all, it would be absurd to ask others to help you find your kind of job when you don't even know what that job looks like. Write a description of the work you want to do. If you need help, go to the library or the state employment service and ask to see the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. In this you will find job descriptions that will help you in preparing one of your own.

Third, prepare a short list of your own skills and accomplishments that indicate you can do the job. This list will also help your network to consider related jobs you might perform.

Fourth, send a brief, friendly letter to each person on your contact list. State simply that you are in the process of a job change and would appreciate learning of any suitable openings that come to his or her attention.

With the letter, send, on a separate sheet, the description of the kind of work you are seeking and your qualifications to perform this work. Ask for tips on this or similar jobs. Emphasize that you are not asking the individual to recommend you, only to let you know of possible openings. Stress that you will take the initiative from there.

Make everything as easy for your contacts as possible. Suggest that they save time and effort by jotting down any ideas in the margin of your letter and returning it to you. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope for that purpose.

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Offer to check back in a week or two. Thank them for any help they can give. In a postscript to your letter, suggest they keep your resume at hand in the event something new opens up.

Fifth, once the ideas begin coming in, expect to write a short letter of appreciation or make contact by telephone. Let people know that their efforts have been encouraging.

Besides the personal network, there is another team you can activate. This is a cooperative, based in an organization with which you meet regularly, in a class you attend, in a club or any organized group with the common goal of career development. The object of the group activity is to build a job bank in which are deposited any job openings the members discover each week. From this pool, any member can apply for one or more jobs.

The success of the job bank, like any cooperative venture, depends on each member making his contribution, being willing to share information freely.

By multiplying your effectiveness in these ways, you will find you have more choices and you will have them earlier in your job search.

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