The job of finding a job
5 tips for the hunt
1. Make finding a job your new job.
2. Tell everybody you're job hunting.
3. Search online but also press the flesh.
4. Consider jobs outside your field.
5. During phone interviews, stand up to project more energy.

You're out of work. You're hardly alone. Through the first 11 months of 2008, the nation's economy lost 1.9 million jobs.

That means that just like it's a buyer's market for houses, where home shoppers can be extra choosy, the recession makes it an employer's market for new hires.

It's no time to dwell on the negative, though. Experts say there are strategies and techniques to conquering joblessness.

Even during a severe economic downturn, organizations have positions to fill, and after the shock of the pink slip has worn off, it will be your assignment to get noticed and get hired.

You can break down the process into several steps:

•File for unemployment insurance benefits right away. Depending on your eligibility, that money is there for you for a half-year and maybe longer.

•Pause, don't panic. Take a little time to get over the trauma and get ready for the next stage in your career.

•Start the search process, mapping out a plan with the same seriousness with which you would undertake a project while working for an employer.

It won't necessarily be easy. Career counselors say hiring is taking longer than usual, a fact they attribute both to an employer's aim to get the right person the first time and to the large number of applicants. Indeed, in November in Illinois, there were more than three unemployed people for every job vacancy advertised online, according to The Conference Board.

But a key step comes early: assessing your skills and figuring out how they translate into different jobs and industries. Particularly during a recession, it's not smart to pigeonhole yourself into believing you can only work in the field you just left. You've got to believe your skills will benefit other industries.

"If you're an assertive-type person in this market, is that an advantage? Yes," said Maxine Topper, supervisor of career counselors for Jewish Vocational Service. "People have to be more aware of where they fit, where they are going [career-wise] and the needs of the employer. [Hiring managers] have a job to fill and they have a ton of people standing in line for that job."

Joy Ashner has been out of work since September, when her employer eliminated her position as a logistics supervisor. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, she has decided to embrace her job hunt by looking forward to what opportunities it may bring her.

"You really just need to pick up and get going," she said. "You need to put the past behind you."