The job of finding a job
She's calling people she hasn't talked to in a decade, telling them about her jobless status and her abilities. She's taking classes to advance her computer skills and using professional networking Web site LinkedIn to find people to speak with.

She also attends networking groups offered by career counseling centers. And while she has discovered that searching for a job is a full-time job in itself, she has taken some solace in meeting others in the same spot.

"I have met so many really smart, really nice people," Ashner said. "It's all different levels, it could be a CFO and it could be somebody working in a factory. It doesn't matter and everybody's in the same boat."

Career counselors say the steps to finding a job in a recession aren't that much different from during good times; you just have to work harder at it. The must-do list includes:

•Check your pride at the door. Tell everyone you know that you're out of work. A job lead may come from a neighbor, a fellow church member or the parent of a child's friend. "There is no throwaway contact," said Wilmette management consultant Marilyn Moats Kennedy. "The shame is not there anymore."

•Don't try to find a job by spending day and night in front of the computer. "This is not a time to be stuck in your home office or your basement," said Craig Randall, managing director of the Chicago office of executive search firm DHR International. "If you're trying to sell something, you've got to go out and press the flesh. Make a list of everybody you know and really attack your personal Rolodex."

•Research an opening by using the Internet to learn about the company and the industry so you can sell what benefit your addition to the company would bring.

"If you have a contact [at a company], don't make that call until you do your research, know how to talk about yourself and what you can offer," said Monica Keane, executive director of Barrington Career Center.

When it comes time for a phone interview, Kennedy tells clients to do them standing up because you project more energy standing than sitting.

•Ask your direct managers if they'll help you with a reference because they have the best knowledge of your work and your accomplishments. While some organizations limit their communication related to former employees, given the non-personal reason for a lot of layoffs today, they may be willing to help.

•Seek assistance and support from career centers and networking groups. One site to check out is, which has links to area organizations that offer support groups, resume assistance and skill-building workshops. Several religious organizations offer assistance on a non-denominational basis.

However, make sure the group advances your job search. Camaraderie is fine at the beginning, but the best groups help advance a member's search.

•Decide whether you can afford to be underemployed and whether you can deal with being overqualified for a position.

"Don't take a job just because it's a job," said Paul Schneider, managing partner of SSP, a human resources consulting firm. "If it doesn't work out, six months later you'll be back on the job market and now what's your excuse of why you left?"

•Look past the biggest, well-known companies. Smaller companies, counselors say, are eager to scoop up talent that they perhaps couldn't attract a few years ago.

•Stay positive. "No one is going to hire someone who comes to them with a sad sack story," Keane said.