If your industry is in trouble now, don't sit around waiting for things to improve. Transfer your skills to another industry. If you performed marketing duties in the construction industry, try seeking a marketing-related position in health care administration, which has added jobs recently. If your small employer is cutting the hours of its sales staff, look at competitors that could benefit from your expertise. If your airline is laying off, shift your focus to an opportunity in tourism PR or hotel concierge services. The idea is to think of at least three to five ways to apply what you know to a new line of work and then go after them.
Even though one or two job postings might scream your name, do not rely on too few applications. You need many, many leads because you never know which ones will pan out. Even if one opportunity looks promising, don't put your search on hold until you receive a firm offer. Apply to positions on your own, post resumes on multiple job boards, and register with employment agencies in your area. Remember, the agencies don't work for you; they work for the company that's paying them for the best find.
Make a list of the people who know that you're looking for work then, make a list of the people who should know that you're looking. That second list should be your primary focus because it should include decision-makers at the employers you're targeting. Make sure they know "who you are." You can accomplish this through internal referrals, alumni contacts, professional associations, industry blogs, online social networks (LinkedIn), local career fairs, peers within the same field, and even old-fashioned cold calling.
In the past, you might have interviewed with one or two people and gotten an immediate offer. Today, you should expect to go through more interviews with more people than ever before. Treat each one as if it's the most important because even one person in the process can ruin your chances by raising doubts about your candidacy. Be nice to secretaries! They report their impressions of you to the boss. Practice every possible question you think you may be asked by using a mock interview, and research the employer and its competition thoroughly.
Don't hold out for the perfect opportunity if it means passing up one that could work well for you right now. Freelance or contract work could get your foot in the door. You can also negotiate working from home part of the time. Having some money coming in and preventing a gap in your work history are important benefits by themselves.
You may find yourself frustrated from submitting dozens and dozens of resumes online - and getting no response. Don't rely on applying online and waiting for the phone to ring. Cold call to find out who the decision-maker is and then use all of your connections, and make new ones to figure out how to get your name in front of that person. Be ready to make a smart, strong, case for why you deserve to be considered for that role, that is, be ready to answer the question "Tell me about yourself." before it is even asked