You didn't panic. You didn't fold. You walked away with your head held high the day you were laid off, determined not to take it personally or let it get you down, sure that you'd find a brand-new -- even better! -- job in a few short weeks.
But that was 110 years ago. Now this dreary job-hunting process definitely is beginning to get you down. You're beginning to take everything personally, furthermore, and are fighting an overwhelming desire to crawl under a rock and stay there.
If your job hunt is fizzling, and so is your self-confidence, forget the rock. Take these steps instead:
* Stop taking this whole business so personally. Hiring is a business decision, not a personal one. Just because you haven't been offered a job yet does not mean you're unskilled, or unqualified, or undesirable, or unworthy or un-anything else.
The last person who interviewed you might have just broken up with his girlfriend -- and she looked just like you. Or you might have been right for a job, but it went to the boss' brother-in-law.
* Stop scaring yourself. This is not the time to tell yourself that you'll never find a job, or that the market will take years to come back, or that you just aren't as experienced or qualified or attractive or assertive or skilled or capable or competent or talented or good at interviewing as other job applicants.
* Sell yourself to yourself. Cheer yourself on -- constantly. Say all the comforting, hopeful, uplifting, positive things (over and over) you'd say to a friend right now.
* Think of turn-downs as practice sessions. The more opportunities you have to rework your resume, perfect your cover letter and hone your interviewing skills, the more prepared you'll be when the job you really want comes along.
* Review your marketing strategy. Are you going after jobs for which you're under- or over-qualified? Does your resume need sprucing up? Are you doing your homework, researching companies (beginning at your local library) before you go on interviews?
* Get objective opinions. Discuss your resume, cover letter and interviewing techniques with a professional employment counselor, or a mentor or a trusted friend.
* Broaden your circle of contacts. Remember: Fewer than 20 percent of jobs are filled through employment agencies and classified ads nowadays. Join -- or start -- a network for women or people in your field. Attend some of those seminars and trade association meetings you've never had time for before. Renew old acquaintances. Call old friends. This is no time to be shy.
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.