Advice for Family and Friends of the Unemployed
Dear Friends and Family,
As you know I’m looking for work. It’s not always an easy time, but I’m confident things will end well.
Meanwhile I know you want to show that you support and care about me. Thanks for all that. It’s also clear that some of you don’t quite know what to say or do for now. That’s why I put together this list of suggested Do’s and Don’ts.
1. Please DO
Here are some ways to show your support without it being awkward.
Be Patient and Realistic
The job market is unsettled. It may take more time than I’d like it to for me to find good work. Remember I’m not just trying to get any old position. I want the kind of pay, title and upward opportunity I deserve.
Offer Useful Resources
If you want to help out, here’s what I could use. Relevant contacts you can introduce me to so I can network with them. Maybe some assistance to free up my days for job hunting (e.g. babysitting, dog walking, grocery shopping, snow shoveling). Later I might need a reference from friends or family if I’m asked for one.
Understand If I Don’t Take Your Advice
I get that you want to share career tips with me. How to find work, who to talk with. I’ll listen to your suggestions with appreciation. But this is my journey. My choices in how I handle it don’t mean your input isn’t important. Try not to feel offended if I go my own way.
Share Your Concerns
There’ll be times I’ll be on a rollercoaster, with my loved ones along for the ride. Some days will be harder than others. So I want us to be able to talk about what’s going on. Not all the time, mind you.
If you see me going off the rails, point it out (politely). Watch for signs I might be slipping into a serious depression (like if I mostly withdraw from socializing, have sudden mood changes, and start sounding as if I’ve lost all hope).
Have faith in me
Sure I’ll get down on myself sometimes: even job seekers get the blues. A lot of who I am is tied up in making a living. Some unemployed face a crisis of identity. Just know that this is temporary. I’m doing my best and will pull through.
2. Please DON’T
If you’re really looking out for my interests, it’d be great if you didn’t:
Say Something Annoying, Like…
- Don’t worry, you’ll find a new job in no time. (I don’t need the added pressure)
- Here’s what you’re doing wrong. (Advise me, don’t criticize)
- Enjoying all your spare time? (My days are full, you insensitive jerk)
- I saw a great job in such and such a field; why not apply? (I have to be qualified!)
- Everything happens for a reason. (Unless you know the reason, keep quiet)
Shut Me Out
Money may get tight and I might not always feel like hanging out. Except it’d feel worse if you stopped calling, inviting me out for get-togethers, or telling me those awful jokes.
Advise Without Listening First
Before telling me I should do this or that, hear what kind of work I’m actually looking for. Also sometimes all I’m really wanting is a sounding board, or someone I can vent to safely.
Try To Fix Or Rescue
I don’t expect anyone but me to resolve my unemployment. If you jump in and offer to pull strings for me, or be pushy about providing a loan, you’re treating me like I’m helpless and a “charity case.” Feel free to let me know this assistance is there if you want. Then wait till I ask (because at that point I’ll really need it).
This Too Shall Pass
My job search won’t end faster if you ask every day if I’ve found work yet. Let me follow my plan. Stay in touch and let’s talk about normal stuff.
Soon enough I’ll find new work. For now I’m just thanking you all in advance for your good wishes.