Thursday, February 19, 2009

Still Employed - How To Help Unemployed Friends

You dodged the layoff! Congratulations. You aren't the minority, but you feel like it. After you go outside and dance like Wesley Snipes did when he wasn't cut on Major League, you get back about the job. Sure you have a lot of work to do, but now you have friends who are also out of work. What can you do to help them with their job search or new business idea?

  1. Reach out to them but be available at their pace. Different people react to job loss differently. Volunteer to help them with the process. You don't have to hire them to be a help. Help them with their plan; developing it, executing it, or revising it. Offer to politely hold them accountable. (See caveat below.)
  2. Help them create their elevator speech. This is a two or three sentence answer to the question, who am I and what do I want to accomplish. It should be written from the hearer's perspective. Help them think of themselves in terms of action verbs rather than industries or functions. See Step 8, here.
  3. For that matter, you can offer a lot of information on job searching on the web. There are groups like JobAngels on Twitter and several groups on LinkedIn, as well as hundreds of search sites.
  4. Help them network. Networking beats remote searching any time. Introduce them to people. These are people who might be able to use someone like them or who might know someone who could. If their elevator speech is concise, it won't be difficult to introduce them to your friends. Afterward, ask how the meeting went and whether they got any other names. That may even help you think of other people to talk to. Bonus tip: check back with the person you introduced to get feedback to share with your friend.
  5. Encourage them. Ask questions about their ideas and help them stay positive. Please do not tell them their ideas won't work. You know you hate it when someone does that to you. Besides, anyone will deflate them, but only their friends can put air in their sails. For every idea they have, try to help them along the way. Imagine what they'd need, even if it sounds impossible and try to be part of the solution. Besides, you'd hate to recommend against something only to find out later that they would have succeeded greatly if they hadn't listened to you. This may be the time they can start a business or move to a new part of the country. You never know what might happen.
  6. Pray for them. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, this is the greatest thing you can do. I can tell you first-hand that God does choose to change events when his people pray.
There are a couple of caveats. First, don't do the work for them! Constantly help with encouragement and suggestions, but rarely, if ever, accept any action items from your discussion. Finding a job is their job. They have to do it. If at any time you feel like you're more interested in this than they are, break it off. Tell them to call you back when they've taken some action. And, when they call you back, if they haven't taken that action, be politely unavailable.

Second, and this is the most difficult. If you either have a position you don't want to hire them for or you feel like they are not qualified for the position they are seeking, you have to tell them, and the earlier the better. The truth will set you free, but it is seldom painless. Put yourself in their position. If they had food on their shirt, you wouldn't let them go on the interview. After you've spent some time helping them define and articulate their strengths, put yourself in their position and tell them the way you would want to hear it. Focus on what would you want someone to tell you and how would you like it to have been said. Put their interests first and do the best you can. That way, if they say they never want to talk to you again, at least you will know you did your best. Besides, you can continue step 6 regardless.

Any other ideas? Please feel free to add a comment with your thoughts.

No comments:

Post a Comment