Lou Mayer, office manager of CBS Personnel, which specializes in placing Capitol Hill staffers, recognizes their special problems. Working on the Hill, she says, is like "being in the womb."

"In some ways, Hill people are probably more accustomed to change and insecurity, unless they've been with the same congressperson for a number of years. Then when this transition happens, they are in just as much shock as anyone else.

"It's like someone died. They go through the whole grieving process: denial, rage and anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

"They cushion the blow -- when someone asked them if they were worried about their boss not getting elected, they all said no.

"And when they didn't get elected, they went into shock. It doesn't hit them immediately. About two weeks later they realize what happened. But Hill people have a lot of job-hunting pluses already. Most are very open and gregarious."

John Wade, former southern political director of John Anderson's presidential campaign, agrees that the nature of the political arena demands immediate adaptation to change. "We respond very quickly to changing stimuli and, I think, usually very successfully."

He limits his interaction to networks that will produce job leads, but during his leisure time he socializes with friends from the campaign.

"When I'm seriously looking for a job, I try not to hang around people who are out of work, too. Everybody around me went through a short state of political burnout, then a personal inventory of their life, then a reorientation to Washington."