Looking for Work? Expect a Lower Salary

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But Shea says this pay structure bodes well for candidates who have confidence in their skills; they could actually end up making more money if they opt for a higher commission rate and lower base.

Despite slow improvements, unemployment is expected to remain high for the next several years. Shierholz says she expects the unemployment rate to hover around its current rate for a year, and says it could take up to five years for the unemployment rate to return to its pre-recession levels in the 5-percent range.

"You need about 100,000 jobs [added] just to hold the unemployment rate steady to keep up with population growth," she says. "Since the spring, it's been a slough."

The scarcity of job opportunities has made even top talent at companies skittish about entertaining offers from competitors. Shea says even though the old adage, "It's easier to find a job when you have a job may be true," it doesn't necessarily mean that the employed workers are looking for greener pastures.

"In an uncertain market, people are sticking with their employers," he says of workers that worry about it being harder to re-plot themselves if a new opportunity doesn't work out.

But for those that do find themselves displaced by a layoff, Karen recommends focusing on the positive.

"You have to have a lot of patience and try to enjoy some of the time off," she says.

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