While it might be embarrassing to admit that you don't have a job, it may be the key to finding support to make a job search more tolerable.
At mid-career it can take up to a year or more to find a new job, depending on your experience, income expectations, field and economic environment.
If your job search is extended, it's even more important to have someone (or several someones) to talk with about job search as well as life issues. Finding a job is not a do-it-yourself project.
So, where do you begin? If you're lucky you have family and friends who are your cheerleaders. But just as often they can put pressure on you and make you feel guilty that you're no longer employed.
Emotional support is very important during the stressful time of a job search, so if your family members are not giving you what you need, it might be a good investment to work with a therapist, counselor or clergy for a while.
When it comes to job search issues, family and friends might be helpful, too. But it's more likely you'll find real support from other sources.
If you were fortunate and received outplacement services from your previous employer, take advantage of them. Usually they include workshops and seminars on writing resumes, networking and other job search skills. Your fellow attendees are good support group candidates. They know what you're going through and have their antennae out for job support groups, leads and can help with brainstorming "next steps" with you. They can also keep you on track with your plans.
It's unlikely that several people will be discouraged at the same time, so a small group to help boost the spirits of each other is ideal.
Do you or did you belong to a trade organization or association? They may have job search groups. Go to a meeting or two and see if anyone wants to be your job search buddy.
There are also many companies or organizations (military groups, social or fraternal groups, etc.) who have alumni or active members who get together as job search support groups. Or a college career office that offers similar services.
If you're stumped about finding a group, start one of your own. Put an ad in the local paper or on the bulletin board of the local grocery store or coffee shop. Just be sure to meet at a public place, not your home. (For more detailed directions on how to start and run a job search support group, see chapter 12 in my book, Now What Do I Do? (Capital Books, 2005).
Mid-career changes can be traumatizing and/or liberating. Any major life change is stressful. Make it less so by regularly connecting with others who support you. You'll build friendships as you look for new work.
Dr. Jan Cannon, Job-Hunt's Mid-Life Career Expert, is author of Now What Do I Do? The Woman's Guide to a New Career, Find a Job: 7 Steps to Success, Finding a Job in a Slow Economy, co-author of Exceptional Accomplishment, and a career professional for 20 years. Visit her website, JobSearchDoctor.com, and circle Jan on Google+ for more career advice and help.