Career Advice

How To Help Jobless Friends & Family

If you’re like most of us, you know at least one person who’s trapped in unemployment. Sixty percent of Americans felt the recession through a family or friend who lost their job, according to one survey.

Your brother, your cousin, your college roommate or coworker may show up among 6.1 million Americans jobless for six months or longer. Or worse, they may be stuck among an estimated 1.5 million  “99ers” – out of work for 99 weeks.

Many are losing hope, abandoning their dreams, or losing their homes. So what can we as individuals do to help a family member or friend who is stuck without a job?

First we must put aside any questions about mistakes they made or missteps that led to their problems. They need to move forward, not look back.

Instead focus on their needs – including emotional and financial support. More than half of jobless Americans have borrowed money from family or friends, and one in five moved in with someone close to them to save money, a Rutgers poll found. The trick is to discover what they really need since they may be depressed, they may have missed signs of health issues or a notice of eviction. Help them to see their current situation and then start down the load road to a better place.

Here’s five ways anyone can help a jobless friend or family member:

  1. Buy them a ticket. It could be a ticket to the theater or a concert or a sporting event. Entrance to a professional meeting, networking event. A ticket to travel to see family for the holidays.The ticket will give them something to look forward to – something good in their life. And yes, you could give them one useful ticket focused on career and job search and another to encourage them or feed their creative spirit.
  2. Give them your network. Proudly introduce them to your boss or the owner of a fast growing business. Take them to your company’s or professional organization’s holiday party. Introduce them to recruiters or HR managers. Recommend them for jobs or on LinkedIn. Tweet about them on Fridays with the #HireFriday hashtag.
  3. Give them a hand. Loan them money, or if you can afford it, give them a cash gift. Help them sell things on eBay or at a flea market. Introduce them to some of the many freelancing websites. Help them start micro-business doing snow removal, errands or cooking for busy professionals.
  4. Give them a room. They may need a place to live or just a place to work and get out of their sad, unheated apartment for a few hours. They may appreciate your cable television, full fridge or your fully decked out home office.
  5. Give them job hunt coaching and confidence. Help build up their confidence by reminding them of previous successes, their heroic save the day moves or incredible solutions. Help them practice tough interview questions. Review their resume and give their online profiles careful scrutiny and some ideas for improvement. If you feel you haven’t got the expertise or time, buy them a career book or one or two hours with a career / job search coach.

Of course the best assistance could open doors to a job. That would be wonderful. But if your gesture gives an evening of comfort and joy, it will bring light to a dark time and hope to those who thirst for it. Interesting in more ways you can help family and friends facing unemployment, try these.