When someone you know is looking for a job, it is natural to want to help. However, you may not know where to start or how to be helpful. The good news is that everyone can be helpful when someone you know is looking for a job, and what they typically want from you is well within your reach.
Many people who are dealing with a job loss struggle to maintain their mental health, so the first and most important thing you can do is be understanding and compassionate. When someone shares with you that they have lost a job or that their job search is not going well, one of the best things you can say is, “I am so sorry. That sounds hard. Thank you for sharing that with me. Would you like to talk about it?” or “How can I help you?” Do your best to instill hope, then follow up to provide continued support.
Keep in mind that not everyone looking for work is unemployed or struggling. Be sensitive to each person’s situation.
Express your desire to be helpful, and ask them to share with you specific details about the kinds of positions, companies, and industries they are interested in. Also learn about their previous work experience, education, and skills—but don’t assume that they would want to do something again if they did it in the past. You might ask them for a copy of their resume to help you better understand their employment goals. As you show genuine interest in their desires, they will be more likely to trust you and turn to you for help.
One way you can help a job seeker is by sharing your job- hunting expertise. If you’re familiar with the industry they’re trying to work in, offer to share your resume writing skills with them or to edit their cover letter—or connect them with someone else who can help. Try role-playing a job interview to help them prepare for potential interview questions. Share relevant experiences from your career path that may help.
Help this person connect with appropriate job leads and contacts. We may be tempted to send any type of job lead to someone who is unemployed, assuming they must be panicked and that any type of job would be better than not working. However, this usually is not the case. Though they may be willing to settle for less than their dream job, it’s still true that most people are intentionally searching for the right job—not just any job.
Waiting for the right job could be about career advancement, stable income, or a better situation for their family. It’s not an indication of laziness, and when we share the wrong types of leads or contacts, it can be hurtful. Sending job opportunities that don’t match their interests can feel judgmental and like we don’t understand them. Take the time to understand first, and then provide information and leads that are most likely to help them reach their goal. You could provide:
Someone looking for a job typically isn’t expecting you to show them how to do their job search, and they may not be looking for a career coach. There are lots of excellent resources for finding employment, many of which have been shared by job-search experts. Community resources, YouTube videos, Google searches, books, and current articles are all fantastic resources for this kind of information. If the person asks you for advice on conducting their job search, it is best to help them find those existing resources. For example, the Employment Services website has many great resources and articles to help someone learn how to effectively job search.
The Church offers several resources for individuals during periods of unemployment. If needed, consider referring a job seeker to:
You can be helpful to anyone looking for a job. Start with being sensitive to the challenges they might be experiencing during their unemployment. Then understand their needs and interests, share job leads and contacts that match their interests, and help them find reliable job-search information. You can always pray for guidance from Heavenly Father, and He will help you know what to do.