Sure it might take some time -- even a few months or more in this recession -- to find something in your field. In the meantime, you need to feed your family and pay the mortgage and other bills.
So here are some tips on how to find jobs that can hold you over until that next dream post comes along.
Laurence Shatkin, a career information expert and author of 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs, said that people need to be "looking for the hidden job market and not depending on the listings in the newspapers or the online job banks."
The best leads come through your networking connections. Those people can also act as a support network to help you cope with being fired.
"It's devastating. It's almost like a death in the family," Shatkin said. "You really have to work your way through this and get a positive attitude."
When it comes to finding that emergency job, think about how much training you need or what type of skills you can bring to the job. And think a bit outside the box.
Traditional fall-back jobs, like being a bartender ($19,740 average annual salary), waitress ($18,570) or restaurant host ($17,770) might not be available in some hard-hit markets where consumers have curtailed eating out because of the recession.
Instead, Shatkin suggested looking off the beaten path, such as working as a funeral attendant ($22,470).
"People go on dying, even when there is a recession," he said.
Other jobs that require only a few hours of on-the-job training are teaching assistants ($30,080), loan eligibility interviewers ($28,190), physical therapist aides ($24,080) and jobs sterilizing and preparing medical and lab equipment ($27,940). Another good option might be working as a postal service clerk ($44,290), but Shatkin said there is usually a big backlog of applicants for those jobs.
A host of other jobs only require a week or two of training and are still hiring.
He suggested looking for a job as a school bus driver ($26,190), or a pest control worker ($30,280). There are also jobs to be found as correctional workers ($39,970), court bailiffs ($38,510), medical assistants ($28,270), dental assistants ($32,280) and pharmacy technicians ($27,560). And for those people willing to take on a bit more risk in their lives: hazardous materials removal ($39,210).
Shatkin said all of these jobs "are less sensitive to downturns in the economy than most occupations."
You might be able to get a seasonal job -- like data entry for tax season -- but Shatkin warns that many of those functions can now be done easily, and cheaper, overseas.
Finally, Shatkin recommends trying to turn your existing skills into something new. For instance, if you lost a job in construction, consider becoming a fire inspector ($52,640). Also think about becoming a self-enrichment teacher ($39,600 ) or -- if you have a master's degree -- an adjunct professor at a local college ($71,950).
"If you can't do it," he said, "you teach it."
Michael Farr, author of 100 Fastest-Growing Careers and several other books on employment, said that a lot of older workers -- particularly those once in management -- are becoming self-employed.
"Managers and professionals need not to be locking themselves into one industry. So if they are having a hard time in the financial industry then they look at their management skills and have options outside the financial-services industry."
If you do take a job painting houses to pay the bills, Farr said it is okay to leave such positions off your resume.
Finally, sometimes it might just pay more to stay on unemployment.
Farr said that before you run out to start delivering newspapers or pour cups of coffee at the local diner, use your unemployment. You are probably better off financially. But once you've run out of unemployment, you may be more open to anything that pay the bills.
"A lot of people get discouraged and sit at home while they're collecting unemployment and that's a recipe for being unemployed a longer time," he said. "The more important question is what should I do with my time while receiving a benefit. The answer is to turn that time into a full-time job search."
You can find out how to apply for unemployment benefits in your state on the site CareerOneStop funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. (Most states let you file a claim by phone or online.) To estimate what your weekly unemployment benefits might be, see this Economic Policy Institute calculator.
"Hardly anybody gets a job offer by somebody knocking on their door," Farr said. "This is why you can't be sitting home every day reading the newspapers."