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.
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