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Netbeans Java Classpath, Accessing property file outside package in seperate directory

I am trying to move my resource file out of my jar file to an independent conf folder and appear to be having classpath issues. Initially, I would like to get running in my Netbeans project and have changed the classpath from the project properties.libraries.run tab. From here, I selected the Add jar/Folder and provided an absolute path with the absolute path selected. Is this correct? Why will this not work within Netbeans 7.2.1?

String resource_file = "project_config.xml";
InputStream in = this.getClass().getResourceAsStream(resource_file);
 if (in == null) {
        throw new IOException("Error reading resource file:" + resource_file);
  }
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Thanks for the info
:)