Discouraged job hunter should treat skills as a recipe and look for a position requiring some of the ingredients.

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Q: I’m looking for a job in my field but am getting nowhere. Companies in my industry all have hiring freezes. I know the reason I can’t get a job is the economy. What can I do when I can’t control the economy?

A: You aren’t alone in your dilemma. Many of my readers are worried about their prospects of joining the ranks of the employed. It is true that in many fields there are hiring freezes. It is not true that there are no jobs to be had.

Since most of us enjoy change about as much as a root canal, the natural response to change is to pretend it isn’t happening. However, ignoring reality just results in reality running you over while you’re looking the other way.

If you’ve talked extensively with your professional network and thoroughly researched all sources of job openings, then you may need to reinvent your career.

Imagine that what you do is a recipe. Make a list where you break down each of the tasks, talents and areas of knowledge you’ve used in your jobs. Once you have your list, think creatively and research jobs that need some or all of these skills. Realize that many of the ingredients that make up pancakes can also make bread — you just change the ratios.

Armed with your skills list, expand your job search to include any jobs where your current skills are valued. Instead of deciding you won’t get the job because you haven’t worked in that field, apply. Rationally, the only thing you’ve got to lose is your status as unemployed

Irrationally, most of us feel inadequate when we’re unemployed. Experiencing rejection is the last thing we want when we already feel inadequate. If you’re a normal person, you’d rather stay in bed and watch bad daytime television than ask strangers for a paycheck.

The only good news when work (or life) hands us a miserable situation is the opportunity to find internal freedom.

Consider this: Psychotherapists often help fearful clients with a technique called “flooding.” Clients are exposed, in an unavoidable manner, to whatever they fear. A person who can’t stand snakes would be seated right next a snake. The technique works because the human body can maintain a high level of emotional arousal for only so long before calming down. When the body calms down in the presence of the snake, the person realizes he can be calm around what he fears.

Since you have no power over the economy, you can focus on losing your fear of rejection. If you can learn this freedom through unemployment, you may find your career (and life) benefits from your newfound ability to worry more about what you want and less about feeling inadequate.

The last word(s)

Q: If I quit to follow my dreams in 2009, don’t you think I’ll be supported by the universe?

A: Maybe, but it’s easier for the universe to support you in a transition when you have an income.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author. She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube