On the Job Front, Hanging On

For millions of Americans, unemployment is more than just a number, it's a disruption in the financial life blood that supports them and their family.

New Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show 12.8 million Americans are without work.

5.5 million of them have been unemployed more than two years. But an additional 2.8 million people who have looked for work in the last year have just given up searching, and aren't even being counted in the unemployment numbers.

Dr. Kathryn Hilgenkamp is a career counselor and therapist. "When a person loses a job, it's like losing a loved one," she says, "You actually go through a grieving process."

The North Carolina Office of State Personnel goes into more detail about the grieving process, but Dr. Hilgenkamp says there are some tools people can use to stay motivated when they feel like they've hit a wall and just want to give up.

Staying motivated is key. Dr. Hilgenkamp says it's important to ask friends, family and contacts for help. She says let people know that you're looking, and to think about it as a challenge not a loss.

Shawn Bergeron is also a career counselor. "Some people might have other contacts that you haven't tried," he says, "Having a good support group behind you is crucial."

Aside from reaching out and creating a network, Bergeron says treat your unemployment as if it were a job. He says set daily goals, whether it's generating your resume, putting out new resumes or talking to different contacts.

Broadening your job search to other cities is another option, and Bergeron says don't count out volunteering somewhere that might eventually have a job opening. He says once you've sent out a resume, it's ok to call them, but not too much. "Maybe put in a call the next day, making sure they've gotten that resume, and that they're reviewing that resume, but you don't want to be overbearing, and you don't want to keep calling and being a pest."

Dr. Hilgenkamp says when you do finally get a job interview, make sure you stay positive and enthusiastic. Employers want to see someone who's ready to jump in and has initiative. "Once you get that interview, being positive can go a long way with a potential employer," she says.

Both Bergeron and Dr. Hilgenkamp say this could be the perfect time to get some extra training, go back to school or explore different career areas. Bottom line, the experts say, don't give up.

For more tips on how to hang in there on the job front, click here.