I started thinking this week about ways we can help our friends and colleagues when they are experiencing a period of unemployment. I came across an article with a list of things not to say to a friend who is unemployed and it had a lot of good points. We can certainly help with introductions and roleplaying practice for interview answers. What else can we do? Kindness goes a long way:

  • Buy a meal–Your friend probably has some anxiety about his finances. Don’t just invite him to have lunch, treat him to it. He’s probably not going out very often and could definitely use a break.
  • Help her ask for help–You could wait for your friend to tell you specifically what she would like from you, but she might not ever get there. Most of us don’t like asking for help. Be proactive and help her figure out what she needs most.
  • Listen–We all like to say encouraging things to our friends, but some of those words of encouragement can be difficult to hear when you feel like you’re not accomplishing anything. Encourage your friend to talk about his experience and how his search is going without telling him how surprised you are that he is still out of work.
  • Assume she’s doing the obvious–Of course she is looking at online job boards and following up on the leads you have provided. Let her know when you come across a more targeted source or meet someone new in her industry, though.
  • Let him worry–This one is hard and I broke this rule myself just last week saying, “You didn’t like that job anyway; maybe it’s all for the best.” Even if that’s true, saying so may invalidate your friend’s feelings. Your friend will worry whether they express it to you or not. Be a safe place for him to say so and move on.

We all want to help our friends when they are anxious or in trouble and with today’s unemployment rate, a job search can take a while. Scott Adams said, “There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Sometimes the smallest thing makes a huge difference.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative