There is a lot of hoop-la over the recession. Or coming recession. Or statistical but maybe-not-really recession. But the truth is that the job market is just fine, especially for the post-Baby-Boomer set.

The health of today’s job market is not so much a function of economic indicators as it is a function of demographic trends. There is a huge shortage of employees. Baby Boomers are retiring and Generation X and Y are less able to replace the Baby Boomers than had been anticipated; employers receive fewer hours of work per person from post-Boomers because of their focus on family (Generation X) and entrepreneurship (Generation Y). Due to these factors, the employee shortage is increasing, and only a knock-down-drag-out recession will change this sunshine outlook for employees.

Deloitte says that employees will be in high demand for the next decade, and that Deloitte’s growth strategy requires that they continue to recruit just as heavily now as they were before talk of a recession. And Forbes reporter Tara Weiss finds that other companies are reacting similarly.

Even in areas where the economic downturns are hitting the hardest — like finance, real estate and manufacturing — younger employees are in high demand.

I recently spoke with Ryan Sutton, vice president at the recruiting firm Robert Half, which specializes in the finance sector. Sutton said, “Demand will continue to be strong. It is so pent up over the years that it’s hard to say whether an economic downturn would really affect a company’s ability to catch up.” Polls conducted by Robert Half show that most companies will continue to ramp up hiring in finance.

In terms of real estate, Deloitte reports that almost 60% of people working in this market will be retirement age by 2010. And groups like Boston’s Urban Land Young Leaders see huge potential for careers in this industry, especially in terms of green building. The bottom line in real estate is that the economic problems are about home prices, not jobless claims: Just because your mortgage is exploding doesn’t mean your career is.

Another example is manufacturing, a sector that is officially in a recession, but that doesn’t mean there are no jobs. In fact, the industry is very focused on the shortage of workers and has ramped up recruiting efforts to attract young people via YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. The $70 million Dream It Do It campaign shows an industry in high-gear hiring mode, unfazed by the fears of recession.

So listen to talk of recession, but don’t let it get you down. There are a few precautions you can take in case you get laid off or downsized. But really, don’t decrease your expectations for your job just because housing prices are tanking and hedge fund managers are suffering. Many people are not convinced that the job market will be hugely affected by this activity.

Often times we get for ourselves what we expect from ourselves. So during talk of recession keep your chin up, and your expectations for your career up as well. This might just be a great time for your career.

Most career questions are actually identity questions. It seems like maybe we need to know which job to take, or which boss is better, or which line to delete on our resume. But really, we need to know who we are.

I learn the most about identity when I’m lost and I have to make a tough career decision. Here’s the first time it happened:

When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to play professional beach volleyball, but I was actually in Chicago, being a bike messenger in the snow, and I had no idea how I was going to get enough money to get to Los Angeles.

So I answered an ad someone ran for posing nude. I thought I could do it and get enough cash to get to LA. I went to the guy’s apartment. Insane, right? You are thinking this was not a safe move. I know. But I was young and sheltered, and I had never been faced with the problem of not having money.

I knocked.

The guy opened his door, and while I was still standing in his hallway he said, “Nice legs. But I can look at you and see this isn’t going to work.”

I said, “Huh?”

He said, “Well. What can you do? You can’t just stand there. That won’t work.”

“What should I do?”

“See,” he said, “I told you this won’t work.”

He told me to stand on my toes and toss my hair.

I couldn’t do it.

He told me to practice and then come back.

On my way home, I thought. “That guy sucks. And I should be in Playboy. In the centerfold. I could do a great job at the written interview.”

But by the time I got home, I was thinking how stupid it would be to spend my time figuring out how to get into nude modeling. That is only a stop-gap measure. Not a long-term way to make a living.

And I asked myself why I was doing that? Why wasn’t I doing something I’d be more proud of? I realized that the ways I choose to make money reflect who I am and how I see myself, and I need to start seeing myself as smart and clever. I always knew I was smart, but I didn’t present myself that way in the world.

That’s the moment I decided to switch. It seems obvious in hindsight, right? Of course getting paid to be smart is better than getting paid to be naked because it’s getting paid to be who I really am inside.

But we each struggle with this constantly, throughout our careers. How to figure out who we are inside and what career will be right for how we see ourselves now. It’s a constantly shifting alliance — what is our identity and what is the career that will reflect that.

Don’t be so arrogant as to think you do not consider such mismatched career moves for yourself as my nude modelling was for me. It’s very hard to define a career that honors our identity. Identity changes as life changes And it’s hard to know what’s true to us at any given point. It takes a lot of vigilance and honesty and a willingness to shift when we’re totally off base.

I’ll be at the SXSW conference this weekend, in Austin. I’m hoping I’ll get to meet a bunch of you when I’m there.

I’m doing a book reading at 3pm on Sunday. Well, officially a book reading. It’ll probably be more like a conversation. I hope I see you there!

So, I guess I took a week off from my blog in order to launch my company. It wasn’t planned that way, believe me. Every day I told myself that I’d blog the next day. Surely many of you know this feeling. The feeling of having been lied to. By yourself.

When I am sucking at my job, the usual problem is a slowdown in my ability to process information. In general, I’m fast. I am pretty sure that most people who read blogs are faster than the general population at processing information. I have no research to prove this, but I do notice that when I recommend to people that they read blogs, people often say that it’s too much information to process.

So, anyway, the times that my information-processing ability slows down is when there’s a wrench in my system. Like launching a new company. When I noticed that I’m drowning in my job, here are things I do to try to get on top of the information flow:

1. Model myself after my information-processing idols.
Example: Gina Trapani, of Lifehacker fame, once told me that on days she’s behind she deletes all the day’s feeds from the 100+ blogs she keeps track of. Her ability to delete inspires me. I started deleting stuff.

2. Look for shortcuts.
I am usually really good at reading a wide range of blogs. But I deleted everything new that came in this week. And then I got nervous that it is lame to spew new information if I am not taking in new information.

And then I found out about Guy Kawasaki’s new site, Alltop, which is great for spinning through a lot of good blogs quickly. I found the site because Guy asked me which career blogs I like. And then, nearly overnight, he launched—a list of links from the biggest career blogs—and you know how I know Guy knows which blogs are good? Because my blog is in the number-one spot :)

3. Have a fit.
Then I went to Philadelphia, to convince a software developer that his current job is a dead end and he should work at my company. And while I was there my computer broke. And I couldn’t check email. Or blogs. Or deal with

So I called Ryan and told him to change our financial projections to include $150,000 this year to make sure that my computer doesn’t break. And I told him to spend another $200,000 to buy me a Blackberry and a Blackberry specialist to travel with me everywhere I ever go so it never breaks.

Then I ordered room service—you know, pizza and ice cream for $50 plus tip? And I have to say the room service order definitely made me calm while I was on the computer in the hotel lobby checking my email. So maybe the key to being a good information synthesizer is an all-out fit with an ice cream chaser. Because look, I blogged. And I think I’m back on track.

It’s the big moment where I tell you to go check out It’s the first stage of our company, and it’s a network of fifty young bloggers who I love, all blogging about their professional interests.

This would be a great time to tell you the grand story of the birth of my grand company.

When people tell you about their company they always tell you the mythology. You know Pierre Omidyar deciding to sell his girlfriend’s Pez containers and then making eBay, James Hong talking about sorting through photos of girls with his dad in the early days of hotornot. But those stories are really the ones you create after the fact.

During the very early days of a startup, there is no mythology. There is only doubt, Ramen, and fighting. For the lucky few founders, there is probably some smooth-things-over sex, but mostly early startup life is suffering. Suffering with a twist.

The twist is that entrepreneurs are generally very optimistic, so we can spin suffering into fun. I never thought of myself as optimistic until I took a test in Oprah’s magazine and found that I was so optimistic that I’m maybe borderline delusional.

But without the optimism, here’s what a startup really looks like: nothing.

For a while, my startup was my column. I always knew it was the basis for something bigger, but I couldn’t tell people that. People think you’re crazy if you tell them you’re doing a business when it doesn’t look like a business. So I kept building my column and the audience and then my blog and its audience until I could think of a company to launch with it.

What I’ve learned by now is that when you start doing your company, there is nothing really to do, and everything to think about. In fact, researchers know that there is no single entrepreneurial trait that predicts success except the propensity to mitigate risk. That’s right. Entrepreneurs are not crazy risk takers but rather people who are trying to decrease the risk as much as they can.

So successful entrepreneurs decide to start a company and then think about it. They play with it in their mind. Maybe they talk about it, just a little. And then they make a commitment to the company, and you know what? Nothing changes. It still looks like a lot of nothing, because it’s mostly just thinking.

And there’s no one to talk to because you’ve been fighting with your partner for weeks because you’re so angry that there’s nothing to do. And you can’t talk to your friends or business associates because they’ll say “When are you going to start your company?” and you’ll snap, “I told you ten times that I already have started the company.”

If people knew what they were doing at the beginning of the startup then early investments would be much less risky. But the truth is that business plans are so apt to change that no angel investor has even asked us for one.

Here’s our business plan: Leverage our established brand to build a big community of young professionals. Here’s what we have: a network of fifty bloggers who have agreed to participate in a community of people helping each other with careers.

And this is also happening: we have a slew of companies asking us to consult with them to tell them how to deal with Generation Y. But that is not in our business plan. We are so excited to take in money that we’re doing it anyway.

Our mythology will not be about how we spent months not knowing for sure what to do, and sort of launching and then pulling back to rejigger things and then going at it again. That is not typical startup mythology; that is typical startup constipation.

Our mythology is going to be something like: we knew we were experts in Generation Y, and we did a lot of consulting to fund a community of young professionals. Or, maybe our mythology will be that crazy startup that Penelope couldn’t stop blogging about.

Two days ago, I called my friend to cut a deal. I needed to make a partnership fast, and we have been doing business together for years. I knew she could push something through her company that would make me look good.

We ended up spending an hour on the phone, and she mentioned she was taking a four-week leave. I knew it was for fertility treatments. She couldn’t believe I knew. She had kept it a secret from everyone. She panicked that if I knew her whole office would know.

Here’s how I knew: Because women with high-powered jobs don’t take four weeks leave. You don’t get a high-powered career by going on leave. But at some point, even in a high-powered career, fertility issues start trumping career issues: When it’s four weeks off a big job, it’s fertility.

I have a lot of friends who went through fertility treatment. So I gave my friend the name of another friend who currently sports bruises all over her body from injections, and then I said, “Hey, I know you’re crying, but push my deal through before you go on leave.”

Let me tell you about my friend who did not wait to have kids—the friend who is genius girl, and great at planning, and a rock star at work, and is doing a startup while she has a young child. She is one step away from being hospitalized for exhaustion. Really. Her thyroid is breaking down from her relying too heavily on adrenaline.

Among my friends who are women, the majority have had fertility problems.

Every friend has a different story, but there is one theme that has dominated every friend’s trials and tribulations: A lack of control. We can control so much of our lives today. And women who are in high-powered careers are usually the best at controlling their lives.

It’s a shock to find out that fertility is so hard to control because it’s so important. So it’s no surprise that there’s an industry developing that helps women control their fertility.

Please, please do not read the rest of this post thinking that holding off getting pregnant til your mid thirties is a good idea. Statistically it is a very bad idea if it’s important to you to carry your own child. There is no science magic that makes a mid-life pregnancy a low-risk endeavor, but here are three things you can do in your twenties and early thirties to decrease the risk of a high-risk pregnancy.

1. Get a husband. I know, this is not popular advice, but it’s practical advice. A husband is like a career. If you are not looking for one, you’re not likely to find one. If it’s not a high priority goal, it’s probably not a goal you will meet. So if you want to make sure you’re making babies with your own healthy eggs, think of your twenties as the time to find a mate.

2. Freeze your eggs. If you don’t want to exert control over your life by finding a husband, how about using control over your life to save some good eggs? The Wall Street Journal reports that even though it’s not actually proven technology, women are signing up in droves. The treatment is expensive—up to $14,000—but often that’s peanuts to women who will spend their most fertile years climbing corporate ladders.

3. Test your eggs for premature aging. Yep. That’s right. Eggs age differently in different women. And the aging process could get faster or slower relative to the general population. This means that while most women need to start having babies before age 35 to manage risk well, some women need to start earlier.

If you want to know if your eggs are aging fast, go to Repromedix to find out if you can be part of the company’s limited rollout of a new test for eggs. The results combine the magic formula of your age, your eggs, and the amount you have of two specific hormones in order to come up with your age in fertility years.

When I was 30 I did not have a boyfriend. I hired a dating service for 10K, (which at the time was the best way to deal with my ticking clock) and the guys who were coming up were great investors for my company and lousy husband prospects. (Except for the Calvin Klein model. He was not a good husband or a good investor. He was totally ridiculous.) At that point, I was making a ton of money, and I could have afforded a lot of this stuff. If I had known about it, I would have done it.

If you have the money, and you don’t have ethical problems with it, maybe you should do it. You never know where you will fall in the fertility lottery: Hedge your bets the best you can.

Men are hard-wired to think they are funny. They use it as a courtship technique. A study by Eric Brassler at McMaster University finds that women rate men as more attractive if they make more jokes. And men are somehow aware of this, because they are more likely to make jokes if women are around.

This is probably part of women being hard-wired to select an appropriate mate; people who are funny are generally smart and creative people, because humor is about putting two unlikely things together in a clever way, according to an interview with Chris Robert, professor of management at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Also, Robert says his research shows that people who are funny are more likely to be promoted.

In the category of research to support what we already know, Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher surveyed more than one million employees to find out that people like fun offices. This news is revealed in their book, The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up.

Anyway, their point is that fun people are more likable. Which is the problem with women: We are not as funny as men. That is not their point. It is my point.

But my gut tells me it’s right. My gut tells me that most funny women are gay. First of all, Brassler’s research found that men do not think women who are funny are more attractive. Also, Christopher Hitchins has a great piece in Vanity Fair, Why Women Aren’t Funny, where he points out that Jewish women are funny, but only because they have male qualities of humor -angst and self-deprecation.

All this makes me happy because people often ask me if I’m gay, and I used to think it’s because I am awkward when it comes to flirting. (Quote from the first guy I dated since the onset of my divorce: “You are an incompetent flirt.”) But now I take the question of my sexual orientation as a compliment: it means that I’m leveraging my angst-riddled Jewish upbringing to be the funny girl.

But back to The Levity Effect. Gostick and Christopher define lighthearted as something more broad than humor. Maybe this is because their book lacks the amount of humor you’d expect from people who write about the importance of levity. But they have a few chapters about how you don’t need to be a comedian in order to create levity. (Which may or may not be justified encouragement to the unfunny.)

I want to tell you to be careful about being funny – because trying to be funny and failing is so lame. But I am certain that men are hard-wired to try no matter what, because they want to mate. Which means they get a lot of practice outside the office. So women should try, too. It won’t help us get a mate, but it will help us get the career we want, (which, in many cases, does help find a mate).

That’s right. Me on CNN today. On the show Open House. I know that often times I have posted about me being on TV have not been moments of genius. Like, me mispronouncing Kucinich’s name. Or me not knowing how to put makeup on for TV.

So I haven’t said anything about TV for a while. But when I was complaining to a Fox News camera guy in Chicago, he told me that every single person who walks in the studio hates how they look on TV. That makes me happy. And brave.

But also, I’m raising a round of funding for my company this week. Lots of investors are looking at the blog. And if I don’t put a post about CNN on top, then the last post I ran, about my divorce, will be on top.

And, by the way, I bet there will be lots of comments today, in the divorce post, saying: “Why is divorce a topic for a career blog?” But if you could see how much the divorce impacts the terms of cashing out of my company, you would wonder why divorce is ever categorized as something other than career.

A lot of times when I’m pitching my company to investors, I tell them about how the blogosphere is great because the conversation is so authentic. And the investors always want examples. Now they have one: Me admitting that I put a post up about CNN not because I really want people to watch, but because I don’t want investors sidetracked by my divorce.

Update: Here’s a video clip of the CNN show, provided by TVEyes.

My husband and I are getting a divorce. It’s really hard to write this for a lot of reasons, but the one that comes to mind this moment is that it’s so crappy to be in the middle of a divorce when I make a living telling people how to run their lives.

Fortunately I also make a living scouring the world for good research. And, while I have spent forever telling you that relationships make us happier than money, I am really pleased to find some research that says that for some people marriage is like a raise in pay, and it only makes us happy for a couple of years, and then we go back to our baseline of happiness.

This is not true for the kids, of course. There is extremely persuasive research that no one likes to hear, that says that kids do not notice that their parents are unhappy in a marriage. In this seminal study, Judith Wallerstein tracked a large sample of children of divorce for 25 years. And she found that unless there is violence in the home, kids suffer more from parents getting a divorce than staying in a bad marriage. This research is what has kept me in my marriage. But now I am learning that marriage is a little like fertility in that I cannot control everything.

So really, I guess I have to say that you shouldn’t take my advice about marriage, because I failed. But then I think, hold it, I have failed at least once in just about everything I have tried, and I think that’s what makes my advice work. How do you know what you’re doing wrong if you are not failing? How do you ever learn your limits?

Here’s the process I go through to tell myself that I’ll be okay after this divorce: I think about when I used to practice volleyball. If you spent the day practicing a shot you knew how to do, what was the point of practicing that day? Where was the learning curve? Where was the growth?

I think that one reason people listen to me about choosing a career is because I chose so badly, so many times. And bounced back. And I think that one reason that Wired just asked me to write a column on how to start a business is because I have started one and seen it go under. And then done another.

We should all know that success is as much about resiliency as it is about luck and skill. And at this point, I think it’s safe to say that while I have luck and skill, I am most gifted in the resiliency department.

So maybe getting a divorce will make for better advice. Or more humility. Which I’m sure are related, by the way.

There’s a study I read in the New York Times about how the people who are most happy with life are people who can create complicated scenarios to explain why a given situation is not so bad. That is me, right now.

To be honest, I’ve had a lot of time to perform those mental gymnastics since I’ve known for a while about the divorce. I waited to tell you because I didn’t want to blog about it when I was crying. Everyone has their limits, even me. And besides, I’ve been raising a round of funding for my company, and what a terrible post to have up on a day when investors are reading my blog.

Anyway, during the time between crying and deciding that I’m the queen of resiliency, I stumbled across this information about my Myers Briggs type: ENTJ. There are sixteen personality types. ENTJs make up 4% of the general population and 80% of the population of executives.

Here’s the news about ENTJs in a marriage:

“Gender issues are especially significant for ENTJ females. As a type, their arrogant, confrontational manner and need for control can appear to be quite ‘unwomanly’ to others. Of course, the problem intensifies for the ENTJ female when dealing with men. Their demanding, objective, competent, and independent nature is not particularly endearing to most men.”

But, being the optimist I am, I kept looking and found this:

“These qualities may obscure the fact that ENTJ females can be quite nurturing and caring. For them, femininity is not defined by traditional roles. It is reflected in the total involvement and commitment they bring to each moment of life.”

Here’s what I’ve been doing while I’ve been not blogging about the divorce: I’ve been thinking about dating. It’s my nature—being an ENTJ means planning the future. I’m very future oriented. And I can’t help wondering where the female ENTJs are in the marriage world. How those marriages work out. Right now, I can’t even imagine how an ENTJ date would work out.

But I’m starting to remember that all the skills I’ve learned in my career will be useful to my personal life right now: don’t focus on shortcomings and play to your strengths instead; be kind and caring to the people around you to improve any situation, and most of all—setbacks don’t matter as much as bouncing back.

Here’s how you figure out what to do next in your career: you line up all the stuff you like to do and you figure out which one will pay best. Don’t complain to me that I’m too focused on money. Really. Just do the exercise. The ones who are complaining the most right now, after reading just this far, are the people who are most in denial of what adult life is about.

Look, figuring out what you should do is actually a hard task. Because you have to start eliminating stuff.

1. Eliminate stuff.
Cross off your list all the stuff that you like to do but that pays well only if you have the career-equivalent of winning a double bingo game. Stuff like, being a feature film director, being an opera singer, or being the owner of the Chicago Cubs.

Then eliminate all the stuff that you think would be fun but probably will never pay well: working in a nonprofit, working in local government, being a travel writer.

2. Look at what’s left. If you are a risk-taker, entrepreneurship is left. If you are not a risk taker, then something in corporate life is left. That’s because this is what adult life is for most people. You get up every day and work at a job you never dreamed about doing when you were a kid.

3. Check in with yourself. Do you feel like you are going to die? Have you been writing songs since you were five years old and you cannot imagine living if you don’t write songs? You can still write them. At your house, after work. Have you been skiing every day you possibly can since forever? Then get a job in Aspen and ski at night.

You don’t need to go into journalism because you love writing. You need to write because you love writing. The same is true for everything else you love. Just because you love something doesn’t mean you need to get paid for it.

4. Be honest about what you love. If you’re not making time to do it regularly unpaid, then you probably don’t love it. Here’s the litmus test: Sex. We do it regularly, unpaid, and we love it. Run this test on other stuff you supposedly love. Do you crave it like sex? Then you probably don’t love it that much. You probably love the idea of loving it, the idea of who you are when you say you love that thing.

When I graduated from college, I did all these things that I’ve just told you to do, and it was soul-crushing. The corporate jobs made me ill. But it was very clear to me what I wanted to do: I wanted to play professional beach volleyball. I was ready to commit everything to that. It did not meet the criteria of being something that could probably support me, but I did it anyway, because it was so completely clear to me that that’s what I wanted no matter what.

5. Admit if you lack a clear passion. If you don’t have something that is overwhelmingly important to do, then you probably don’t have anything that you’d absolutely rather be doing than getting up and going to work every day. So just start doing that. In any field. And stop deluding yourself that you have so many interests that you can’t choose. Really what you have is no clear interest and only a bunch of things you would consider if you had nothing to do.

6. Get busy. Doing anything. But you do have something to do. You need to earn money. And since you don’t have anything that’s making you feel like you’re gonna die if you don’t do it, go get a job in a cube and stop complaining. The best way to find yourself is to start doing things. When it comes to ourselves, we find by doing, not philosophizing.

When I stopped playing volleyball, I tried tons of different jobs, trying to figure out which one was right for me. I changed jobs every year. And I figured out where I fit.

But all that time, I wrote at night. After work. Marci Alboher writes about “slashes,” those people who have two careers, like, lawyer/actress. But really, we all have two careers. We have the career that is what we do that earns money, and we have the stuff we do at home because we love it. Career is not just your day job anymore—career is how you spend all your time. Spend it doing things that matter to you, and don’t discount that struggling with what it looks like is a necessary phase. Time spent struggling to figure out what matters to you—that something that should be as important to you as sex—is essential to you becoming you.