VOL. 132 | NO. 172 | Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Helping a Hopeless Job Seeker
If you have a job seeker in your life, there’s a decent chance you’re concerned about them. This is especially true if they are currently unemployed. They’re upset. You feel upset. You may secretly wonder what they’re doing wrong, and what you can do to help.
The right answer to this question can be tough. One thing to keep in mind is that although the job market is improving, it’s still not easy. Jobs are more specialized. Many roles are done by fewer people than in the past. And, different markets and cities are improving at different rates. As you would expect, not every job seeker is having the same rosy experience.
The online process also presents huge challenges. It’s hard to overestimate this issue. Companies often use their websites to collect resumes, but it can be tough to know which internet applications are actually seen by human eyes. The online process sounds like it should be simple, so a job seeker may wonder what’s wrong with their resume when they don’t hear back. They begin to take it personally. This negative experience is compounded when family and friends begin to question the job seeker regularly on what the problem is, or perhaps more accurately, what “their” problem is.
One of the best things you can do is provide a listening ear. Job searching, especially when you’re unemployed, can be an isolating experience. This is true for almost everyone. The job search and its difficulties is something job seekers rarely talk about openly. Because of this, the job seeker will likely assume they’re the only one struggling through the process, or the only one not getting calls back from online applications.
A second helpful thing you can do is to offer assistance. Offer to review the job seeker’s resume. Offer to introduce the person to contacts you have. But, be prepared to follow through on your promises. During this time of change, the person needs to know they can count on you.
Last, try to be understanding and supportive. If you haven’t looked for a job in some time, realize that the job market is constantly changing. Finding a new job takes time – even for the most seasoned and successful professional.
It’s also important to note that finding a job in one field (for example, technology) can be much easier than finding a job in another (for example, communications). Some fields are flooded with applicants while others have very little competition. And certain jobs require certifications or education while others are open to a broader base of candidates.
The bottom line is, don’t assume the job seeker isn’t trying, or that they have chosen the wrong career path. And if they have a tough time emotionally, realize that it’s just part of the process. They’re normal and they will find something new in time. Until then, try to be as patient and supportive as you can. It will help them in the long run.
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.