I have been involved in conducting a few interviews for admin jobs and here are two of the main things I have noticed about those who are unsuccessful: resumes are out of date and not relevant to the job applied for and the person was not prepared for the interview. When you go for an interview you have to keep in mind that they really do want to hire someone, but you have to make it worth their while to hire you. Look at being unemployed as a full-time job and what you are trying to do is sell yourself.
Here is what I recommend.
1) Do try the temp agencies. It is better to be working. When on a temp job, work as if you are on probation all the time. You never know who is observing you.
2) When you go on an interview and are not successful, ask for feedback. What could you have done better? What was it that they didn't think qualified you for the job? Many times I have interviewed people and wished they would ask because I wanted to tell them what they could do differently so they would be successful.
3) Find someone to mentor you. A friend, former colleague, former boss - someone who can look over your resume for you, practice the interview with you and give you pointers.
4) It matters what you wear, your hairstyle, how you present yourself, body odour, bad breath, too much perfume etc. etc. They will make their impression of you in the first few seconds. Make it count. This is another area your mentor can help you.
5) Do research about each company you are applying for. It is easier nowadays with the Internet, so take the time to find out about them.
6) If you can search them, be sure they will search for your name on the Internet as well. What does your online presence say about you? What are you saying in chat rooms, on FaceBook, Twitter etc.
7) Be prepared with a few questions when you go to the interview but also look for things to ask in the interview. Consider it a two-way conversation. Don't go in just to answer questions. You want to find out whether you want to work there as well. It's all in the attitude. Their questions can oftentimes be turned around into a question that you can ask. Especially if you don't know the answer i.e. What are your career objectives? Your question could be "What opportunities does your company have for growth?" You may find they will start to try and win you over.
8) Be aware of your body language. Are you relaxed, too relaxed, tight lipped, arms folded and legs crossed, say 'um' too much, hem and haw etc. A mentor can help with this as well.
9) Be positive, pleasant, friendly, smile and shake hands and make eye contact when you first come into the room.
10) Be pleasant to the receptionist as well. They will likely ask his or her impression of you. Don't text or be on a cell phone while in the waiting room. You might inadvertently say something that will be overheard and work against you.
11) Choose some good references and make sure you contact them ahead of time to ask permission to use their name and to let them know they may be contacted.
12) Send a thank you card very soon after the interview. It may not help you be successful for this job, although I do find it makes you stand out, but there may be another job that they will immediately think of you for.
All the best to everyone who is looking. Someone is looking for you as well, you just need to help them find you.