unemployed- Leslie Inc

6 Ways To Help Unemployed Friends And Family

So you’ve got a friend or family member who’s unemployed and looking for a job. Maybe your friend hasn’t quit their job yet and has turned to you for help.


1. Be Compassionate

Don’t assume your friends’ career problems are entirely their fault, either. Sometimes, the workplace dynamic can change as fast as a few days or weeks and bad bosses or new policy can be the cause for workplace woes. Take the time to listen to their problems and you’ll find that their are external factors affecting their job satisfaction. Remember, job loss typically involves a grieving process. Give your friend the emotional space (or closeness) they need to get through the initial shock, anger, confusion and other emotions they feel.


2. Ask Questions

Ask your friend to be specific about their job search. Ask the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why? Who do they want to work for? What do they want to do (think specific job titles)? When can they start working (this is a good question if they are still employed, are a student, or have some other personal obligations such as family)? Where do they want to work geographically (in the same city, out of the country, near their kids’ school, etc)? Why do they feel they are qualified for the job in question. Knowing specific answers do these questions can help you keep your eyes and ears open if opportunities come up – you might even pose some basic questions about their career path your friend had never initially imagined.


3. Recommend Resources And Forget The Internet

Refrain from talking about internet job boards. Just about everybody who has ever had a friend search for a job these days automatically refers to the internet. “Have you tried Monster or Craigslist?” Odds are, that’s the first place your friend has looked. Remember, less than 7 percent of job founds today are found on the internet, so help your friend focus on real life networking.

Ask your friend if they have found good resources for their job search or career change. Do you know of a good career counselor or some great books? Share your resources. I warn against simply making blind recommendations, however. Be sure your friend can actually use the resource in question. If you’ve got a personal experience, share your recommendation and relate personally to their experience.


4. Point Them Towards Information Resources Within Your Network

Set your friend up with others who can provide information. You don’t have to ask your network to “give” your friend a job. You can, however, point your friend towards mutual friends or colleagues who can be sources of information. Just be sure to let your “source” know of your intentions ahead of time. If your source does business a certain way, be sure to find out the appropriate channels to follow and pass that information on to your friend. It doesn’t hurt to remind your friend of basic professional etiquette, such as following up and writing thank you notes. Any tips you can offer to make the networking experience as professional as possible will help keep your friend’s reputation in a positive light.


5. Be Accepting

Don’t be too hard on your friend if they are not having much success. Unemployment automatically equates to rejection, as job seekers feel they are constantly being judged. Remind your friend of their strengths and why you believe in them. Your kind words and motivators might seem small, but they go a long way and can sometimes be enough to keep your friend going as they make their way through a tough life transition.

6. Offer Fun Distractions 

Help your friend have fun once in a while. If it means dragging them out of the house to get some sunshine or getting them back into an old past time, help your friend remember that there are other things in life to enjoy and that life does move on.

The job search process is hardly a simple process and neither is being a good friend during a such time. Consequently, stay objective about the process, be personal about being a friend, and before you know it, your friend or loved one will find their next step.



Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

Leslie Juvin-Acker

Leslie Juvin-Acker is Chief Happiness Officer of Leslie Inc. Since 2008, she has been coaching executives and business leaders all over the world. She is an expert in emotional intelligence and helps professionals tap into their own imagination to find solutions for personal and professional happiness.

  • there’s another thing , when you are in the lowest pit , you tend to freeze. by that i mean that in our lowest hour we are not the most proactive , enthusiastic versions of ourselves. And all advice on how to find work is usually based on our pro-activeness. people who lose their jobs or find their jobs on the line are really down in the dumps. For the employed friends point of view , we think ‘gosh he/she is just not doing enough , if only she could do some follow ups…”. the thing is that the mental state at such a time isn’t very conducive to such advice. The person gets so caught up in that mental state that some times its just hard to do anything at all.

    September 7, 2010 at 8:16 am
    • Sadya,

      I’d have to agree with you, once again. There is a grieving process involved in losing a job (and even preparing to quit) that has to be worked through. The clients that come to me have finished grieving and are ready to find a new job/career. Granted, these job seekers will experience highs and lows which will require short motivational speech at every session just to ensure they are feeling good about themselves. Those clients who are still dealing with their emotions or feel depressed end up quitting coaching because they’re not ready to let go of their negative emotions.

      Losing a job or changing jobs is a powerful emotional and psychological process that affects our lives in so many ways. A good coach/friend/family member will be aware of the emotional sensitivity that comes with unemployment and will help to balance that with real life solutions to help the unemployed move forward in life.

      September 7, 2010 at 9:33 am
  • Leslie , what is the grieving process like when someone loses their job?

    September 8, 2010 at 11:36 am
    • Sadya,

      The grieving process is the same for any type of loss, actually. More specifically, I refer to the Kübler-Ross model of grieving.

      There is the initial shock/denial, then anger, then bargaining, then depression and finally acceptance.

      I usually work with people once they have reached acceptance, however, it’s not unusual to work with someone WHILE they are undergoing professional therapy/counseling. I have had clients that I had to “fire” and refer to a counselor/spiritual counselor because of their deep job-loss/transition depression.

      Thanks for asking!

      September 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

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