(CareerBuilder.com) -- It's no secret that finding a job in this economy is difficult at best. Since the recession hit in 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor reports there are now more than 15 million unemployed Americans facing the loss of their homes, savings and sanity.
The latest numbers show an unemployment rate of 10 percent, but that number doesn't take into account the job seekers who have become discouraged. Economists are predicting a slow recovery for 2010; so what can you do to sharpen your competitive edge?
Narrow your search
Throwing your résumé out to every outlet, headhunter and Web site is called "spraying and praying." Looking for a job is like dating. You need to be discerning about whom you give your résumé to. Putting yourself out there to everyone and anyone can make you look desperate. Look within your industry, but also look at the industries and sectors that are expanding: education, health care, hospitality and energy.
Tailored to fit
Let's face it, you are not perfect for every job, but the goal here is to get your foot in the door. Let your qualifications on paper stand out to employers. Before you hit the send button or stamp your envelope, make sure you research the company and position you're hoping to fill. You can highlight your experience and tailor it to complement the prospective job. This is not about lying on your résumé; this is about showcasing your talents and qualifications for the open position.
No means maybe
Looking for work is work. This is not for the faint of heart, and chances are that with such a saturated market, you may never know why you didn't make the cut or get the interview.
This is about persistence, being able to be your own PR agency and not taking rejection personally. Some of the greatest minds and inventors have been rejected and experienced failure time and time again before they made it.
• Don't take it personally -- It's not about you. Let it go and move forward.
• Look at the lesson -- Maybe you blew it on the interview or your résumé wasn't up to par. Take the lesson and make it different the next time around.
• Take it as experience -- Look at the rejections and passes you received from past job hunts. Did you give up? Did those rejections define you? Did you survive and, better yet, did you find a job that was a better fit? "No" doesn't mean "never."
Practice your pitch
You've heard this before. You walk into an elevator and the CEO of the very company you have been hoping to work for walks in with you. You have until the seventh floor to persuade him to give you an interview.
What do you say? This is why you need your elevator pitch, because you never know when or where you may run into someone who asks what it is you do or what you're looking for. You want to be direct and concise and pique their interest.
Never give up
I am not a Pollyanna and I'm not expecting you to be one either. You are facing a tough market, and your courage and strength during this near impossible time is to be commended; but no matter how bad you feel or how discouraged you become, you must do something every day to reach your goal of getting that job.
A phone call, a connection, a networking event, even using social networking as a way to let your friends and associates know you are looking and what you are qualified to do. No one will knock on your door and hand you the job of your dreams; this is something that you will have to make happen on your own.
Alisa Weinstein is a certified coach, business executive, and entrepreneur.