If you've been reading any career advice articles lately, by now, you know how important it is to build a strong personal and professional network. By using social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and attending in person networking events, you can stay in touch with others in your field and create new contacts as well. These networks of interconnected people are a valuable source of information and they can provide you with job leads, references and introductions. No matter what industry you're in or what type of job you're looking for, having a strong network is important. Now, however, there is another great reason to network – it just might save your life.
During the economic recession of the past few years, more and more middle class, white collar workers are out of work and struggling to keep their heads above water financially during an extended job search. They never thought that they would end up in this position. Even the financially savvy ones who had listened to the good advice of their parents and had three to six months worth of expenses in their savings accounts have found that their savings wasn't nearly enough to cover the ballooning interest rates on their home mortgages and credit cards. For people in this situation, especially those over 50, finding a new job isn't easy, and when they find their next job, it will probably involve a significant pay cut.
This wide spread depression comes at a huge cost. On May 3, 2012, the Center for Disease Control released a report stating that there has been a significant increase in the suicide rates of middle-aged Americans. It seems that between 1999-2010, the overall suicide rates among American between 34-64 has risen by 28.4 percent overall. For white males between 50-54, however, that number jumps to just shy of 50 percent. The CDC said that a large possible contributing factor for the increase is the current economic downturn.
So, what can you do to prevent depression, decrease your chances of suicide and even help others? Network. Network every chance you get. Here are a couple of ideas for successful depression busting networking:
Get to know others who are out of work. Create mini support groups with others in your local area. These groups can provide emotional support, job search tips and can be a great way to take a break from your job search and get energized. Also, these groups help you to not feel so isolated. One of the challenges of not having a job to go to is the loss of daily and weekly routines and social connections. This isolation can be bad for your mental health. So, reach out to others and help them stay positive.
Volunteer. Just spending an hour or two each week volunteering for a cause you believe in can help keep depression at bay. These types of activities can be a great way to get to know others and will give you a more positive outlook. Also, volunteering can really bolster a resume, especially if you've been out of work for more than a month.
Do lunch. Now that you have more free time, why not plan business lunches with your previous co-workers or colleagues? Is there someone in your industry that you've met a few times and would like to get to know better? Lunch dates are a great, casual way to get to know people or simply touch base with friends. If you try it, you'll be amazed at how much you can learn over lunch, from industry news, job leads and even introductions to others, it's worth doing.
Depression is dangerous. If you are spending most of your days alone, worried about your job search, reach out to your friends. Don't allow yourself to become even more isolated. It hurts your job chances and can cause you to lose perspective. If you are having thoughts about harming yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You don't have to be on the verge of killing yourself to call, they can help you whenever you feel that you're in a crisis.
What do you do to stay positive during your job search? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Image source: Veterans Crisis Line