With the youngsters returning to school, some parents now find themselves furtively searching for the perfect job.

Whether it is a part-time gig for Christmas money, an opportunity to get out of the house or the start of a new career, job hunting can be frustrating and ego-deflating.Looking for a job requires specific skills. Development of those skills requires practice. Take time to prepare before hitting the pavement.

- Identify your goal. Don't take a job just because it's available. What kind of work do you want to do? Are you a people- or task-oriented person? Do you mind confrontation? While you may be able to do any job, one that doesn't suit your personality is stress-producing and not much fun.

- Be specific about the number of hours you want to work and the money you would like to make. It may make sense to return to school to update skills or prepare for a new career. Doing without extra money now may be worth the long-term gain.

- Develop a creative job-hunting strategy. Some experts say it takes one month of full-time looking for every $10,000 in salary you would like to make. In a bad economy, that time may double or triple.

Most jobs never make it to the want ads. They are filled by word of mouth. Tell everyone you know that you are looking. Don't miss any opportunity to communicate. If you use a personnel agency or headhunter, be certain about who pays the fee, how much it will cost and what happens if you quit.

- Develop your resume writing and interviewing skills. The goal of your resume is to get you an interview. The goal of the interview is to capture the job. If your resume doesn't help you make the final cut, it may be poorly written. Use books, a resume writing class or a professional to help you improve it.

It takes practice to get good at interviewing. Begin by doing mock interviews with a friend. Then interview for jobs you don't really care about getting. Interview for the job you really want when you have some experience under your belt.

- Keep a positive attitude while you are looking. Think of it as a challenge.