Losing a job is tough. Losing a job in the second half of your career can be especially challenging.

When successful professionals get together in job transition support groups, you find out that they all share the same basic story.

Michelle Brady lost her job two years ago after spending 13 years with the Red Cross in marketing.

"It wasn't just me," said Michelle. "There was a massive organizational layoff. I used to meet regularly with five or six people who were all laid off on the same day. I didn't do anything wrong. I had great reviews, I was professional. I simply could not be paid any longer. They didn't have the funds to continue."

At his home on the west side, Rick Lacoboni sat at his kitchen table and said, "Over the last 15 years, I've lost four jobs not from my own doing. I had two downsizing in companies that were really great companies, but they were more sales oriented and not marketing oriented. One company moved out of state and another company that just went out of business."

We caught up with Michelle Brady as she was heading out the door to pursue another job lead.

"I've had 41 interviews in the last two years,' said Michelle. "If anyone ever told me when I got laid off that it's going to take you two years to find a job I would have laughed or would have said there is absolutely no way. I was actually kind of arrogant at the time and thought I'll have a job in a couple weeks."

The longer the job search continues, the greater the emotional toll on the person in transition.

"It's a strain emotionally, financially and sometimes you do feel like your self-esteem goes down," said Lacoboni. "I don't think it's just a male thing, I think it's a human thing. You just wonder how people look at you, like maybe you are not good at what you do."

Veteran career transition coaches know how difficult the process can be on the jobless.

Greg Reynolds volunteers with a group called North Coast Job Seekers.

"It starts out with anger and frustration," said Reynolds. "First shock and numbness, anger and frustration, you go wallow down to a really critical point where you can stay there. I call it the 'aint it awful' place, and you can either stay there and wallow in it or work your way out."

Cyndi McCabe is a career transitions counselor for Lorain Community College.

"It's an emotional curve and people go through a grieving process just like one goes through with a death, a divorce. We have to respect those emotions," said McCabe.

She says that adjusting the emotions has to be done before the job applicant goes to any job interview.

"I've heard of individuals who have displayed anger towards their previous employer when they've been interviewed by a potential employer. And that creates a lot of problems for people," McCabe added.

Lamar Ratcliffe has been advising out-of-work professionals for over a decade. He warns that the higher the previous salary, the longer and tougher the job search can be.

"It's going to be one month for every $10,000 you made in income," said Ratcliffe. "So if you made $100,000 a year in salary, it could take up to 10 months. Or more."

All the career counselors agree that you have to cope with negative age-based stereotypes and find a way to overcome the potential employer's concerns about "overqualified" job seekers.

You will need to show them that there is tangible benefit that you can bring to their company with your years of experience.

According to the job counselors, here are the top three recommendations for professionals who are looking for work:

1. Network

There are more than a dozen groups that meet regularly across Northeast Ohio. Go to the meetings. Every contact can become a job lead. Spending time with others "in the trenches" can be very beneficial.

2. Sharpen your resume

Don't be afraid to explain gaps in your employment history. Make sure your resume makes it clear that you have something to offer this particular employer, not just a generic statement of value.

3. Tweak your LinkedIn profile page.

Employers will look through your LinkedIn profile page. Make sure that it's up to date and that your business contacts endorse you for the right skill set.

Here is a list of networking resources:

North Coast Job Seekers
Meets at Pioneer Memorial Presbyterian Church
35100 Solon Road Solon, Ohio 44139
Meeting time: 7:30 to 9 p.m. Second and fourth Monday of the month
Refer to website for specific meeting information

Grace Job Seekers NetWORK
Grace Church
7392 Pearl Road Middleburgh Heights, Ohio 44130
Jim Jasko 216-267-4300 jjjasko@gmail.com
First and third Mondays of each month at 7 p.m.

Ohio Career Connect
Monthly networking event is last Wednesday of the month – 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Oak Barrel Restaurant: 5975 Canal Rd, Valley View, Ohio
Sponsored by Szarka Financial: 29691 Lorain Rd, N Olmsted, Ohio 44070

Hudson Job Search
Christ Church Episcopal: 21 Aurora Street, Hudson, Ohio 44236
Jim Ahern, Director
First and third Monday, 7:15-9 p.m.

Career Transition Center
Monday Morning Jump Start, Shaker Heights Library - second floor
16500 Van Aken Blvd., Shaker Heights, Ohio 44120
Every Monday 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
LinkedIn Group: CLE Career Transition Center

Wednesday Morning West Side Jump Start
Located at Vision 21 Consulting in Fifth Third Bank building
20220 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, Ohio – Third floor conference room
cynthia.wilt@careertc.org or ann.hunter@careertc.org
Every other Wednesday
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

CTC Technical Coffee Club
Located at Vision 21 Consulting in Fifth Third Bank building
20220 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, Ohio – 3rd floor conference room
BREAKOUT session at 11 a.m. from regular Jump Start Job Club every other Wednesday except when a speaker is present
LinkedIn group: CTC Technical Coffee Club

Job Search Support Network
St. Basil Catholic Church
Parish Center Room 7
8700 Brecksville Road, Brecksville, Ohio 44141
440-526-1686 church
Second and fourth Tuesday 7–9 p.m.

Employment Connections
Federated Church
76 Bell Street, Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022
go to: connect /ministries/adult ministries/employment
Greg Polyak, Dan Sommers and Ralph Lindeman
Chachadancer.gp@gmail.com, sommersdan@msn.com,
Every Sunday 10 a.m. or after the first service (not Christmas or Easter)

Lorain County Community College
Spitzer Conference Center
189-199 Innovation Drive, Elyria, Ohio 44035
Cyndi McCabe
Second and fourth Monday, 7-8:30 p.m.

St. Albert the Great Network of Employment
Opportunities (STANEO)
Lorie Milano: lmilano33@sbcglobal.net
Noel Juguilon: jnjuguilon@gmail.com
Meetings at: 6667 Wallings Rd, North Royalton, Ohio 44133
Church lower hall
Second Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and fourth Tuesdays 7-9 p.m.

The Saints Employment Network
St. Mary’s of the Falls School Hall
8262 Columbia Road Olmsted Falls, Ohio 44138
Gabrielle Oelbracht: Gabrielle.saints@yahoo.com
Third Thursday of month at 7 p.m.

St. John Neumann Job Network
St. John Neumann Church Gathering Room
16271 Pearl Road, Strongsville, Ohio 44136
Third Wednesday of each month, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

St. Francis Xavier / Holy Martyrs Churches
606 E Washington Street, Medina, Ohio 44256
cathcartd@yahoo.com or jmayiras@yahoo.com
330-721-9796 for information
Joe Gainard: joeyG@zoominternet.net, 330-725-8690
First Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Holy Martyrs at 3100 Weymouth Road
Third Tuesday at 7 p.m. at K of C Hall, 131 N. East Street, Medina, Ohio
Orientations at 6:30 p.m.

St. Richard –North Olmsted Employment Ministry
St Richard Church
Culliton Hall Room 7
26855 Lorain Rd, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070 Call
anns@srnoem.org or donnas@srnoem.org
Fourth Monday of month at 7 p.m. - except holidays

Lakewood Job Club
Lakewood Library
15425 Detroit Avenue Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Contact: Becky Carlton r.carlton@csuohio.edu 216-421-6685
A free job search and networking group.
Last Tuesday of the month from 6-8 p.m.
Meetings are open to the public and all are welcome.