How to Help Out an Unemployed Friend

Losing a job is the third most stressful life event according to Answers.com. Numbers 5 and 8 are “work” and “commuting”. For this survey we see that losing your job is not entirely the worst thing in the world, but it does seem so at the time. In today\’s economic climate everybody knows someone who has lost their job. Those who haven\’t may experience survivor\’s guilt. One way of alleviating this feeling is offering your friend or relative help, but what, specifically, can you do? You can help your unemployed friend with his/her job search and just by being a good friend.

Here are several suggestions:

Help Your Friend with the Job Search

  1. Accompany them to the Unemployment Office and anywhere else they may need extra support.
  2. Introduce them to your network. Recommend some friends or acquaintances that may be able to help. Talk them up to everyone you know who may be able to aid in their job search.
  3. Offer technological assistance. Many people still aren\’t computer literate or aren\’t familiar with social or professional networking sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Monster.com). Help them update their resume, and then collaborate with them to think up new and different work options suited to their talents.
  4. Give them a pep talk. This too, shall pass and they may come out even better than they went in. Often, when one door closes another one opens and the opportunity would have been missed if you\’re at work.
  5. Suggest checking temporary-agency opportunities and contract work. This is not for everyone, but can definitely help in a pinch.

 

Help Your Friend on a Personal Note

  1. Share a meal. Take them out for lunch or dinner, or have them to your home for a home-cooked meal (but keep it simple, it\’s not a celebration).
  2. Encourage them to take full advantage of their “time off” by dividing their time between the job hunt and things they might not have time to do if they were employed (for example, like catching a movie, taking a walk, or taking nap in the afternoon).
  3. Offer a trade. Suggest ways your friend can help you (baby-sitting, doing mid-day, around-the-house projects) in exchange for a gift card they need. Or offer free babysitting so they can get out of the house.
  4. Have fun. Invite your friend to accompany you to a sporting event, a movie, or something else you both enjoy; it doesn\’t have to cost money.

 

However, the focus doesn\’t always have to be your friend\’s employment or job search status. In fact, if you talk about work too much, it could come across as nagging. Unemployed people, especially those involuntarily unemployed, may be embarrassed over their circumstances. They may end up isolating themselves because of this. Make an effort to stay in touch. Give them a call; drop them an e-mail; stay connected.

Cultivate a team-oriented outlook where your friend is concerned. Encourage them to look at the job search as their current job. Participate in their search as much as possible without doing it for them. Cheer them on as well as up. Try to not allow them to blow things out of proportion and ultimately, help them things in perspective.

The main thing is to offer encouragement and optimism. Sometimes all they need is a sympathetic ear. The opportunity to vent to an empathic friend can be priceless. Real listening entails, at least briefly, existing completely for your friend.

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