At a time when so many people know friends, family and former colleagues who are out of work, we turned to Jean Baur, author of Eliminated! Now What?, for advice on how to help someone close to you stay upbeat and motivated during their search for employment.
When comforting your loved one, or simply discussing his or her sudden job loss, Baur suggests saying something such as, “I’m so sorry this happened,” or “I know this has nothing to do with the quality of your work.”
According to Baur, saying things such as, “How will we pay our mortgage?” or “Oh, you’ll have a job in a week,” are detrimental for many reasons. “Critical or overly optimistic statements aren’t helpful — as they’re not grounded in the reality of the person facing job loss — [they just] add pressure and make him or her feel even more alone,” she explains.
Another no-no Baur cautions against is asking questions such as, “Do you have a job yet?” She says it’s much more supportive to ask, “How’s your search going?”
What you can do to help
Lending a loved one your support and a listening ear is one of the most important things you can do to aid him or her, says Baur. A few specific things she recommends you do include:
- Asking, “How may I help?”
- Making a list of all the people you know who may also be able to help your loved one.
- Taking your loved one to a networking meeting.
- Offering to practice interview questions with him or her.
What to avoid when trying to help
Baur advises against becoming overly involved in your loved one’s search process. She explains, “They are in charge. They hopefully have a plan, and it’s not your job to run the show. Be respectful of their way of doing things.”