Helping Friends & Family Through a Job Search
No doubt about it, job searching is a trying time, not just for job seekers, but for family and friends as well. And of course we want to help, we really do. Sometimes we’re successful, and sometimes we need to be more understanding. So friends and family, listen up! Here are a few do’s and don’ts, as submitted by real live job seekers (thanks for the great ideas!).
Listen: deeply and non-judgmentally to everything and anything we need to say.
Understand: that a job loss very often results in a grieving process. Shock, anger, sadness, fear – be prepared for any or all of these normal responses – losing a job and looking for a new one is a marathon roller coaster ride. We need to have a shoulder to cry on. Let us save our game face for networking and interviewing.
Ask: How can I help?
Tell: Remind us of our good points. Compose a list of our best attributes. Write a glowing letter of recommendation.
Brainstorm: When we’re ready, help us brainstorm different employment options and with permission, help us figure out ways to reduce expenses. Encourage us to think about what would really make us happy in a career.
Share: News, the good and the bad, work-related or not. In other words, it’s okay to be happy because you got a promotion or had new grandbaby. It’s okay to mention the fact that your cube-mate made you mad. Just stay in touch. We job seekers need to know that life goes on and we’re still included.
Network: Talk to your friends, PTA members, teachers, doctors, Mary Kay ladies, hairdressers, insurance agents, and everyone else you know about us. Share contacts and job leads – most of us appreciate the gesture even if it’s not quite what we’re hoping to find.
Help us focus: Help us create a plan and offer to help with its execution, stopping short of nagging.
Help distract us: All job search and no play makes us dull, cranky, and sad. Take us out to a movie, dancing, hiking, whatever. Encourage us to keep up with our normal recreational routine, including workouts, sports, and hobbies. Pamper us with hugs or even a little massage now and then.
Be patient: Job searching takes time!
Don’t freak out (or at least don’t let it show).
Don’t EVER ask “Did you find a job today? Did you get any interviews lined up?” Trust the job seeker to immediately share good news – you’ll be the first to know.
Don’t ask us to do more chores than we previously negotiated. Don’t assign special household projects or ask us to run your personal errands unless you want to pay us the going rate. Don’t completely eliminate the day care. Just because we’re not working doesn’t mean we have all the time in the world – job searching is exhausting, full-time work in and of itself.
Don’t assume or insinuate that those networking meetings we’re attending are just a form of socializing.
Don’t push the person to take the first offer received if it’s not the right job. It won’t be the last offer.
Don’t let us wallow in too much negativity, booze, ice cream, or couch time.
Don’t discuss the job search at every family gathering and make it the major topic of conversation.
Don’t give up.
Don’t dump us.
Don’t nag. Yes, we know we said that already. It bears repeating.
Remember: A friend in need is a friend indeed. For richer, for poorer. And so on. If you have additional ideas for helping a close friend or family member through a job search, please let us know!