I recently dealt with another major layoff and have been job searching for six months.
As a job seeker, the first thing I did was jump on the phone right away with all the perfect things to say to start networking.
Then, something happened I did not expect.
People started to tell me things
"Don't worry. Everything will be fine."
"Do you need money?"
Even worse, people did not follow up with me at all believing they would distract me from my job search.
Here are some job search perspectives
Let me give you some perspectives from the corporate consummate professional who loved their career.
I do not like job seeking. Just like you, I need support.
I had been working in the same field and industry for ten years. Now, I search for a job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here are a few guidelines
If you sincerely want to support job seekers like me having a difficult time on the job hunt, try this advice below.
1. Show empathy and offer a genuine compliment
I hear far too many polite and formal "Don't worry. Everything will be fine." from friends and acquaintances. While I genuinely appreciate the boost of optimism, the only thing I really care about is securing a new job offer.
Instead, try saying, "I cannot imagine how it must feel to lose your job unexpectedly. I admire your drive to relentlessly pursue this job search, day after day".
I have so many conversations with recruiters who emphasize what I do not know. It is inevitable that I have my days filled with doubt. I question my own worth to companies.
My self-confidence is gone and I am struggling every day to define what I am good at and how I can find a job that fits me perfectly.
It feels great when my feelings are acknowledged. It is refreshing to hear someone looks up to me for something. I do not get much of that behavior during a job hunt.
2. Ask how you can help a job seeker
I can see it in people’s eyes when they are trying to prioritize what to ask me next.
"Would you like me to proofread your resume?"
"Should I introduce you to my cousin who works in HR?"
Trust me, the fact you are actively thinking how to roll up your sleeves along with me is humbling. I appreciate it. However, offering a specific type of help might not be as helpful.
Instead, ask me and other job seekers, "How can I help?" because I might have different answers at different stages of my job search.
The tried and true recipe for successful professional development is networking. Here is one question that is always helpful to ask me, "Who would be a good person for you to network with and what industry/company/profession/geographical area are they in?”
Ask this question to discover your own connections who can assist me.
And if I do not react favorably, please remember sometimes I am not looking for any solutions or help. I may just need someone to listen to me!
3. Create an opportunity for me to feel valued
Looking for a job has been my full-time job for six months. While I became a subject matter expert in the process, my productivity results have amounted to zero.
I have lost my purpose and identity because I think I am unproductive, worthless and unsuccessful.
I know you must be thinking, "I don't want to bother her. She is busy with the job search". But instead, try thinking how you can involve me in something that I am good at.
Do you have a baby shower coming up and you know I am good at event planning?
Remember my love for house projects the next time you are remodeling your kitchen.
Maybe, I can simply help you with an Excel file you're just struggling with today. Did you know I am a master at spreadsheets?
Don't worry about my time or catching me on a break. Let me decide how I should spend my time. At this point, I really welcome the chance to use a skill or two. I need to feel valued and useful again.
Searching for a job is very challenging. I know this whole experience will make me stronger.
Remember the importance of being a good friend and supporting me and others through this difficult job hunting period! I will do the same for you during your next job search.