Ronald Reagan once quipped: “A recession is when your friend loses their job. A depression is when you lose yours. "
We're either dipping or narrowly skirting a recession, and getting good job hunting skills (or refreshing your existing one) is becoming a growing priority for millions of Americans and Europeans.
(A brief aside about lies, damned lies and statistics - while Americans worry about 5-7% unemployment rates being the sign of a recession, in Europe, the usual rate is closer to 10%, due to different measurement metrics and having more people on the dole. Conversely, it's much harder to let an employee go in Europe, where holding a job is considered a fundamental right. )
First things first - look at your expenses each month. Then look at your income from unemployment insurance (if available), and at the burn rate on your savings. The longer you can spend job hunting before feeling the financial pinch, the happier you'll be with the outcome. And while you're job hunting, also look at doing some freelancing in your field if you can - many job types, such as copy editors, writers, and spreadsheet gurus, can make decent money on the side doing freelancing work. )
Next - there are fundamental basics of job hunting. Make sure your resume or CV covers the high points of your experience and is easy to read. Make sure that your cover letter explains, succinctly, why you're the best candidate for the job, and every time you get a nibble on a resume, send an interview thank you note. (Here's a trick - write the thank you letter the same time you write your cover letter, update it with the name of the person you're interviewing with, and have it printed, and in a stamped envelope to drop off in the mail box on the way out of the interview. )
Next, be prepared to work at finding a new job. Expect to make 40-50 telephone calls per week, and to send out at least 15-25 resumes or CVs per week. Be diligent in following these up. While you're aiming for making a high quality contact, this is a numbers game. Conversely, don't fixate on one job and get depressed if you don't get it. Again, the numbers game rules.
Flexibility is also key in job hunting - be willing to take on contract-to-hire positions, or work through a placement firm. Be willing to relocate. Focus on the upside, and maintain your full flexibility as a prospective employee.
If times are slow, consider taking an extra class or two, or getting a certification, to help you get an edge up in the job market. More and more, employers are forced to look at certifications to avoid charges of discrimination - you might as well get them and use this to your advantage.
Finally, be on the lookout for posted and non posted jobs. Even when times are good, fewer than 20% of all jobs get publicly posted. Talk to people in companies and work with them to find jobs that aren't publicly posted. Likewise, assume any job listing online is getting hammered with resumes and act appropriately.
Find out more about how to do an effective job search including how to find hidden jobs