Help Wanted

When the market goes south, think about going north — to Canada, that is, which saw 107,000 new jobs in September alone (while the U.S. lost 159,000 jobs that month). Mukluks not your thing? Consider a career change. Here, the rare sectors that are currently doing more hiring than firing:

THE INDUSTRY: ENGINEERING

Why now: With everyone talking renewable energy, techy grads are suddenly hotter than Chace Crawford.

The bank: $70K - $90K

The requirements: Bachelor's or master's in engineering

THE INDUSTRY: HEALTH CARE

Why now: Thank aging Baby Boomers in need of nurses, physical therapists, and radiologists. Caveat: Seattle Grace isn't hiring.

The bank: $45K - $75K
The requirements: Bachelor's or master's in nursing; master's in physical therapy

THE INDUSTRY: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Why now: Triumph of the nerds — again. Global demand for skilled programmers and software developers is only expected to rise.

The bank: $65K - $110K

The requirements: Bachelor's in computer science or information systems

THE INDUSTRY: GOVERNMENT

Why now: Big Brother is always hiring. The options are endless, but the better-paying gigs are in accounting, research, and administration.

The bank: Varies widely. A clerk makes $30K or so, while a government-affairs manager can collect up to $100K.

The requirements: Bachelor's degree

THE INDUSTRY: EDUCATION

Why now: College instructors have become a hot commodity as droves of the unemployed head back to school.

The bank: Roughly $60K for the nontenured

The requirements: Bachelor's; master's in education

Because HotJobs and Monster Suck

These social-networking sites are musts for hard-core careerists:

LinkedIn (linkedin.com)
Skip the cold-calling and leverage your own contacts to connect directly with staffers at your company of choice. Like playing Six Degrees of Separation — winner gets a job.

Plaxo (plaxo.com)
Scours your online address books and reconnects you with people you've impressed already. Who knows? Maybe your old boss is looking for a new sales rep.

aSmallWorld (asmallworld.net)

An exclusive, invite-only webiverse of just 300,000 members. If you can score an in, scour their VIP business event listings to rub accomplished elbows in the flesh. —Jihan Thompson

Desperate Measures: Cash in Now

Those real-estate tycoons may be screwed, but it turns out it's boom time for a slew of other under-the-radar professions. Go there if you dare.

  • Repo woman: Job cuts, rising food prices, and home-heating bills have forced Joe Six-Cylinder to fall behind on those Pontiac Sunbird payments. Experts say some 1.6 million cars will get repossessed this year. Hey, somebody's gotta do it.
  • Bartender: Alcohol sales usually jump in a bad economy. Or as Homer Simpson once said, "To alcohol! The cause of — and solution to — all of life's problems."
  • Bankruptcy lawyer: Needless to say, bankruptcies have become big business — up 40 percent in 2007 and likely to continue rising.
  • Surrogate: More gay men are looking for baby mamas to help jump-start their families, according to surrogacy agencies nationwide. Consider it a nine-month, $30K freelance gig that comes with swollen ankles and morning sickness.

What I Did to Land a Job

I asked a stranger if he needed an assistant.

"Last year I met a graphic designer for a big nonprofit at a baseball game. I was in the midst of a career change and had gone back to school to become a designer myself. So I asked him if he had an assistant. He looked at me and said, 'I'm actually looking for one.' He ended up hiring me!" —Katie Leonard, NYC

I jumped through hoops for a job — literally.

"I was trying to land a gig as a fashion photographer for a big client and promised I'd jump through hoops for them if they would just give me five minutes to make my case. When I showed up for my meeting with Hula-hoops, they saw I meant business — and that I have a sense of humor. I got the job!" —Dani Brubaker, Los Angeles

I slipped my résumé to a guest speaker.

"I was an advertising major in college, and the creative director of an ad agency came in to lecture my class. I walked right up to him, even before he started speaking, and handed him my résumé. He ended up offering me a job — and still talks about how gutsy I was!" —Pamela Hutmacher, Chicago

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