The job search process can feel lonely and isolating. But, it doesn’t have to be. There’s a lot you can do to support a friend who’s looking for work. You might even be able to help them land a job.
Maybe you know someone who’s actively looking for work — or maybe you see their job situation and think they should consider moving on. As a friend, you want to help. But, it’s not always easy to know what would be useful … and what might add to their stress.
You’ll be pleased to know that there’s a lot you can do to help your friend land a new job. Here are a few tips to consider:
Have Good Boundaries
The first and most important thing you need to know about helping a friend who’s navigating a job search is that it isn’t your struggle. You can offer leads, support and advice — but only if they ask for it.
Wait for your friend to indicate that they need help before you start offering them contacts and suggestions. Above all, listen. Sometimes, that’s the best way to be supportive.
Know the current job market
The good news right now is that the job market is strong. The unemployment rate is just 3.7 percent, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department.
Of course, it’s uncertain how long these positive trends will last. But, at least for now, the labor market is solid and it’s safe to say that it’s a relatively good time to be looking for new gig. However, every industry is different.
If you have a friend who’s looking for work, you might advise them to do their homework regarding their industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes regular reports offering insight into employment by major industry sector. It can help to see how things are trending.
Beyond that, you might advise your friend to research the career paths of people in their field. One way to do this is by taking a look at LinkedIn to see what their peers are doing. Do they have skills that your friend could gain, in order to improve their profile in the market?
In this case, it’s better to nudge your friend to do their own research — otherwise, you’ll wind up sounding critical. But, you can help out by researching options if/when they identify a skills gap. Is there a free online class they can take to get up to speed?
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Help keep their spirits up
The job search process can be a long and arduous one, even when the market is in your favor. Conventional wisdom states that it takes about a month per every $10,000 that you hope to earn to find a job. So, if your friend is aiming for something in the $60,000 to $75,000 range, they should expect it to take about six months or more to find the right fit.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here. Some job seekers will take a lot longer than that to secure employment, whereas others could get lucky and find something almost right away.
No matter how long and difficult the job search process is, it might take a toll on your friend. This kind of thing tends to challenge one’s confidence and it often forces some heavy life-path analysis, too. So, be compassionate about everything your pal is going through and offer a listening ear and some encouragement when possible. Take them out for coffee to discuss what’s new. Call them from time to time to check on how things are going.
There’s a lot you can do on the morale side of things when your close friend or family member is looking for employment. Praise their efforts and help them to keep their head held high throughout what can be a very difficult process.
One of the most practical ways to help your pal is to keep an eye on the job market for them. If you have the time to spare, sign up for a few job search websites and schedule some alerts for job titles that might interest them. (Again, check with your friend first, to make sure this is useful. You don’t want to spam them with suggestions.)
Keep in mind that new postings go up all the time, and it’s helpful to move on something that’s the right fit pretty quickly. You never know what might happen. Your friend might end up finding a job because of one of the listings you send.
Do you know anyone who works in the field where your loved one is looking for employment? The truth is that many people find jobs through networking. The figure could even be as high as 85 percent, by some estimates.
Even if your friend doesn’t land a job because of your introductions, they could still learn a lot from the connection. Having the opportunity to chat with someone from the industry can help your friend understand relevant skills to cultivate, or which companies to investigate in your area, for example.
Making some key introductions could be really helpful if you want to help your friend make progress on their career path.
Be a good example
You want to commiserate with a friend when they’re going through something challenging. And, your job-searching pal might feel pretty down during their process. But, instead of ruminating with them about how hard it all can be, try to set a positive example and have a hopeful attitude.
Share success stories from your own job searches, not just your horror stories. It’s easy to get depressed and discouraged when you’re looking for a job. So, don’t throw more negative vibes at the problem.
Look over their materials
When it comes to important documents like resumes and cover letters, it’s always helpful to have a second pair of eyes. So, offer to take a look at your friend’s resume and cover letter. Be sure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
See if everything looks professional and up-to-date. Do these documents paint a clear, accurate and positive picture of what your pal can do? Assuming your friend is open to your feedback, let them know what you really think and provide some ideas on how to improve.
Give them a referral
A PayScale report examines the ways in which referrals shape the workforce. Trends vary by industry, but as a general rule, a referral is an excellent way to get a job. Over a third of all workers say they received some type of referral for their current position.
Employees received their referrals from a wide variety of sources. The most common was from a family member or close friend (41 percent). The next most common source was a business contact (32 percent.) Some received their referral from someone from their extended network, for example a friend of a friend, but this was less common (22 percent.) Only 5 percent of referrals came from targeting current employees at an organization for a job. Although this path isn’t as popular as the rest, these “cold connections” still helped a fair number of people to land a job.
If someone you care about is looking for work and you know of a position that’s right for them, referring them is an excellent option. Sometimes people feel funny about taking this kind of help to secure a job lead. But, it’s very common and there’s nothing to feel awkward about. Networking isn’t all about attending conferences and schmoozing with other people in your industry. A lot of folks get jobs because of personal referrals.
Offer to go with them
No, we’re not advising you to go to job interviews with your friend. (Please don’t do this.) But, that doesn’t mean that your buddy has to go through every step of this process by themselves.
There are a lot of events associated with looking for work where it might really help to have a friend tag along. If your pal is interested in going to some kind of career options gathering or a networking event, for example, it might be helpful for you to offer to come along. They’ll feel more comfortable if they don’t have to go solo.
Plus, who knows what will happen? You could even end up forging a connection that helps you in your career.
Remember, All you can do is lead them to water
Your efforts can only take your buddy so far. They’ll have to secure themselves a job. You can lead them to water, so to speak, but they’ll have to decide whether to drink.
It’s wonderful that you want to be helpful. But, don’t take on the stress of someone else’s job search as it if were your own. You have even less control over this process than your friend does. And, at the end of the day, this isn’t your job search. Being a good friend also means knowing how and when to step back.
Hopefully, before you know it, you’ll have the occasion to celebrate your friend’s accomplishment with them.
Tell Us What You Think
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