Up on Capitol Hill these days, says career counselor John Hallen, he's seeing "a sense of panic" as workers whose bosses were ousted by the electorate scramble to find new jobs.

"Their time frame is short," notes Hallen, who has begun to get clients from the Hill's soon-to-be-unemployed. Their big question: "can I find something soon enough?" With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, "It's not a great time to be a job hunter."

Still, maintains Hallen, "While congressional staffers may be uptight," the situation is not all bleak.

First, there's a tendency in outgoing administrations, he says, to loosen up on hiring freezes and fill current vacancies "to leave a strong residue of supporters" behind."I know of two agencies (he declines to name them), where they've sort of taken the lid off."

Additionally, he says, Capitol Hill employes with three years on the job can (by law) be hired noncompetitively by government administrators for a period of one year after they go off the congressional payroll.

A smart job-hunter, says Hallen, will press that advantage because the Hill staffer can be hired "quickly, avoiding the usual cumbersome bureaucratic practice."

And "Hill experience is useful for people working in government agencies."

Hallen divides those seeking help into:

Top-level professionals: The smaller group, "who are quite political," often facing a "values issue -- whether they want to work for an opposing administration.

"We work on that. I tell them that they should be clear what they want. If it's really a problem working under the Reagan administration, they're better off in the private sector."

Lower-level staff people: administrative assistants, clerical workers, executive secretaries, who may have been committed to their senator, "but if he's not going to be there, it doesn't matter who they work with." He's inclined to suggest a career step-up to a federal agency, for which he advises setting up a network of contacts.

If you want to remain on Capitol Hill, says Hallen, build a network "into the people who know the people who are coming in."

Look for a "middleman" first, especially if your old boss was a defeated liberal Democrat and your best hope is a moderate Republican. "You have to disassociate to some degree."