6 Things You Can Do to Help an Unemployed Friend Find a Job
While the nation's economy is improving from the depths of despair we experienced in 2008 – 2009, finding a job is still a challenge for a large number of people. Currently, I have a few friends who are looking for new jobs, some unemployed, some underemployed, and others who want to trade in their current jobs for new ones. These recent experiences have prompted me to consider how I can be the best resource and friend possible during their searches. Here's what I've been up to. (See also: Should You Talk to Friends About Money?)
1. Offer Up Your Contacts
A few of my friends are interested in transitioning in both directions between for-profit and non-profit organizations. I've worked on both sides of the aisle throughout my career, and I've found a great deal of satisfaction and some difficulties in both. Whenever a friend tells me he or she needs a new job, whether by circumstance or choice, the first thing I do is offer to connect them with people I know who can be helpful to them in their search, especially if they are looking to change industries. I spend a lot of time and effort cultivating my network, and it's a tremendous gift to connect like-minded people who can help one another along their career paths. (See also: Hidden Networks That Can Help You Land a Job)
2. Ask Them What They Really Want to Do
Before I make those connections I mentioned above, I ask each of my friends what they really want to do with their careers going forward. These future plans can simply be the next step on their path or a long-term goal. To be most helpful to them on their journeys, I need to know where they want to go. As Lewis Carroll so brilliantly and insightfully wrote in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "If you don't know where you're going, any road'll take you there." We need to have some kind of destination in mind before we set out on a new road.
3. Review the Resume
Just as a map can show us where we've been and the way ahead, a resume succinctly explains our work history and our future ambitions. I always keep mine up-to-date as I add new experiences, although you may find that many of your friends don't have this practice. People are sometimes reluctant to ask for help on their resumes because they are afraid to toot their own horns. Offer your eagle eyes and help a friend brush up a resume so that they shine like the bright stars that they are. Be honest and supportive, encouraging friends to focus on the skills they acquired in each professional experience as well as their achievements and results. (See also: 12 Words to Delete From Your Resume)
4. Suggest Groups to Find New Connections
Some people don't realize just how many resources they have in their job search. Many alumni organizations, even if we've graduated a while ago, offer fantastic services to connect to other alums and discover job listings. Professional organizations, LinkedIn groups, and Meetups are other rich pools of opportunities to connect with and learn from others who share our interests and goals.
5. Remind Them to Set Goals and Review Them Regularly
The job search can feel like a grind, especially when it's not going as well as we'd like it to go. We easily lose our way and forget all that we're doing to help ourselves.
I encourage my job searching friends to keep track of every person they speak to, every resume and cover letter they submit, and every company that piques their interest. Note the dates and content of the conversation or job listing, and create next steps for each. It's helpful to encourage friends on the hunt for a job to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals and then track their progress. One of the most disorienting parts of the job search is that it feels so overwhelming and often lacks structure. With a plan in hand, we can stay motivated and persistent, two attributes we need to lock down a new job. (See also: 9 Ways to Maintain Motivation)
6. Give Them a Break
Looking for a new job is a stressful experience. Friends need our support in their search, and they also need ways to take their minds off of it every once in a while. Have them over for dinner at your place, catch a movie together, or take a walk or run through the park. The job search is a full-time job in and of itself, and just as we need a break from work to be at our best on the job, we also need a break from the job search so that we put our best foot forward with potential new employers. Sometimes our friends will want to vent about the process, and sometimes they'll want to talk about something completely unrelated. Give them that space and an empathic ear.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to grow a career, and it takes several villages to get through a job search. When a friend is looking for a new role, that's a time when we can really step up and show our care and concern. It's sure to be appreciated and reciprocated.
How have you helped friends find new jobs? Let us know in comments!