I pitched the question to a few recruiters and -- not surprisingly, seeing as it is their line of work -- most of them felt that it is possible to land new jobs during a recession, but that it's on job-seekers to adapt their approach.
Don't assume there are no good jobs out there
Even though fewer people are being hired, recruiters were quick to note that they are being hired for jobs that count.
"Obviously, a lot of people go by the theory that you should keep your job while you can and do everything in your power to not get laid off," said Greg Gary, managing director of Technisource, Spherion's technology division. "But the reality is that because we're in a recession, if a company is offering a job, it's not a 'want' job, it's a 'need' job. And if they need that job filled, you have a lot of power when you're negotiating."
Don't quit your day job
Not quitting one job before you land the next one is age-old advice. But it would be all the more shortsighted to do so when job opportunities are so sparse.
"With any job search it is always best to seek a new position while you still have your current one. I would advise against leaving a position until another opportunity is solidly within one's grasp," said Casey Manning, a San Francisco-based IT recruiter.
Do your research
Just because a company is still hiring, doesn't mean that they're being realistic about where their business is going to be in the next year. Corky Gardiner, a recruiter in the Washington area urges job seekers to look into the stability of the company you are looking into, the stability of the job within the company and the stability of the market that the company is in.
"It really comes down more than ever to doing the research, being prepared, and knowing what to expect before you drop your resume into the marketplace," said Gardiner.
Be more flexible
When companies get too scared to hire full-time employees, they often turn to contractors to get jobs done.
"Just because companies are slashing payrolls does not mean they don't need work to get done. Especially in the IT industry, there are numerous companies who need qualified professionals to maintain the functionality of their businesses during harsh economic conditions," Manning said.
It may not be the exact kind of role you were hoping for, but recruiters say it can be your best foot in the door when the hiring situation improves.
"The contractors used during this particular contraction are better poised to be the first candidates the employer reaches out to when hiring is again placed at the forefront of a companies expansion and growth plans."