How To Help A Friend Find A Job
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
You have a friend who needs to get a new job. You’d like to help but aren’t sure how to go about it or even if you can. Start by asking yourself the following questions. (Don’t do anything yet, just ask the questions.)
|What is your knowledge? For example:
|•Do you know of any job openings where you work or elsewhere?
•Have you or someone you know used an employment, staffing or outplacement agency that you can recommend?
•Do you know about employers who are “always hiring?”
•Do you know helpful websites you can mention?
•Do you have special professional knowledge that leads you to give good advice? For example, are you an employment coach or a psychotherapist?
|What is your network? For example:
|•Who among your other friends and family might know of job openings or be of help in some other way?
•Do you have contacts at former places of employment who could help?
•Do you have contacts from schools you’ve attended, associations where you’re a member or conferences/conventions you’ve attended?
•What friends do you have in common with your job-seeking friend? What are their resources? Can you get together -- even if only by phone or email -- and share your resources?
|What are your skills? For example:
|•Are you a great resume or cover letter writer?
•Are you a whiz at designing advertising materials? Could you design a print package your friend could use to sell himself?
•Do you have skills that you could teach your friend that would increase his employability?
|What kind of moral support can you give? For example:
|•Is this a crisis? Is your friend unemployed due to layoffs, his employer going out of business or some other reason for job loss? If so:
•When can you make time to be with your friend and listen to what’s going on?
•Do you need to increase the time you keep in touch with your friend through phone and email?
•Is this a normal job hunt -- a desire to change employment? Does your friend still have a job, however pleasant or unpleasant it may be? If so:
•Is there any urgency to the job hunt?
•Does your friend have plenty of resources for employment change without your needing to add anything?
The answers to the above questions give you a general idea if you can help and how. They should also stimulate other questions and ideas. But, regardless of how many ideas you have, there’s something else you should do before making any plans or taking any actions: talk to your friend.
If he has already asked for your help, make sure to talk about any specifics he has requested. Can you help in the way asked? Are you willing to do so? After you’ve talked about his interests, then it’s time to talk about your own ideas.
If he hasn’t asked for your help, tell him you have some ideas and ask if he would like to consider them. Many people are offended by unsolicited offers of help. They feel demeaned by the idea that others may not see them as capable of completely taking care of themselves. Please remember that helping another is about that person, not about you. Be sensitive to their needs and put your ego on the back burner. Accept graciously your friend’s decision not to take your help and drop the subject.
If your friend says he is interested in your ideas and your help, use the answers to the above questions to work together on a plan to put them into effect.