NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Stress and frustration are the top effects of unemployment and a long job search, according to a 2012 study by Millennial Branding.

Looking but not finding a new career landing spot can be frustrating, exhausting and psychologically painful, especially for Baby Boomers who face the longest wait on job searches. It makes 48% of Americans mull going back to school to earn extra credentials for employment, the study says, while 33% look to start their own businesses.

Most just keep at it — they have to. But that can be a problem too.

"A job search can take a toll on one's psyche and, in turn, that can negatively impact how one is perceived during a job interview," notes Sarah Connors, principal recruiter at WinterWyman, a Boston recruitment firm. "This can lead to a negative, downward spiral of bad mood, bad interviews, discouragement and defeat."

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The lucky ones have a job already, but are likely forced to look under the maxim "looking for a job is a full-time job in itself." And if that's true, how do you keep a full-time job going smoothly while also looking for another position? That's a question often asked of professional job recruiters such as Connors, and they have some useful advice for keeping a search rolling and your sanity intact during long employment searches:

Get feedback. If you've been on the hunt for a while without much progress, take a step back. "Talk to professionals with whom you have a strong and trusting relationship, like a former boss or your recruiter," Connors says. "They get it, and they get you. Also, ask for and be ready to hear specific, constructive feedback — and request a mock interview. Are there things you could be doing differently? Questions you could be answering better? Follow-up that could be stronger? Their feedback could mean all the difference, and the positive comments they will share are a nice boost to your confidence."

Stay in the loop. Check your career network to learn more about the industry you're interested in and any changes or trends observed by people you trust. "General market advice and hearing what they are experiencing on the front lines could be just the spark you need to shift your approach and pick up some momentum," Connors says. "Whatever your reason for connecting, by the end of the call, meeting or social media interaction, there's a good chance you will feel more relaxed, have more confidence and be inspired to excel in your search."

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Keep a highly active social media presence. "I'm in-between jobs right now with a highly selective search going on, and having a social media strategy has really helped me a great deal," says Bruce R. Mendelsohn, a marketing and public relations professional. "It's very important to have some sort of online presence, especially if one is seeking a position in marketing, communications, branding, PR and above all social media and digital marketing." The first place prospective employers go (that is, after a resume hopefully piques their curiosity) is online to check you out, he says. "You have to be on LinkedIn, with a current (and stocked) profile, and you must have a website that features your work — the more current the better," Mendelsohn adds.

Exhale — and relax. "All job-seekers need downtime, and to take time to rejuvenate and have fun," says Karen Evans, director of the career development center at Albright College in Reading, Pa. Evans agrees that looking for work should be treated like a job in itself, but that doesn't mean you need to devote all your time to the task. "Take time to pursue personal projects and to connect — or reconnect — with friends, family and colleagues," she says. "Take advantage of your newfound free time to work on personal projects you may have neglected when you were employed, the experts say. Completing such tasks can provide a feeling of accomplishment."

Above all, be patient.

"Remember that job searching is a process, not an event," says Christy Hanson, director of the career and professional development center at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. "Despite how strong your qualifications may be, securing a good-fit position takes time, energy and patience. That being said, it's necessary to take breaks once in a while in order to avoid becoming weary or burned out. Maintain a positive attitude, and believe that the right opportunity will come along."

— By Brian O'Connell for MainStreet