How Do You Advise Friends That Are Out of Work?

I have a friend that was laid off at his job a while back and continues to look for work.

After getting caught up with him about a month or so ago, I must admit I left our time together shaking my head a bit.

First off, it is not up to me to judge him and/or his approach to finding another job. He’s old enough to make decisions on his own; I can only offer him advice from when I got laid off last decade and what I experienced.

So when I asked him how the job search was going, he said he’d essentially stopped looking and was just going to file for another unemployment extension. While he indicated he was tinkering with some business ideas of his own, he also noted that he was fine with just sitting back and collecting his check from the state.

When I got laid off back in 2006, the initial shock of it soon turned to frustration, disappointment, anger and anxiety. What had I done to warrant this? Could I have done anything differently to prevent it? Better yet, what could be learned from it?

I did learn some things from that negative experience in my life, most notably that to throw in the towel was not an option.

Yes, I went through a period where it seemed like my world was spiraling out of control; however I also knew that retreating was not an option. Everything happens for a reason, so I had to make the best of the situation and learn from it.

Flash forward years later and I feel like I have learned things from that period of my life, some of which I would like to gently share with my friend that is going through a similar situation.

Those thoughts include:

1. Handle looking for a job like a job – To anyone that says looking for work is not a full-time job in itself; they’ve never been through the experience. The first thing I made sure I did while out of work was keep a normal schedule. I’d get up each weekday morning as if I were going to work, would dress as if I were headed out to the office and so on. Even though I was getting ready to either job hunt online or in person, I kept a similar routine to that of having a FT job. It would have been very easy to stay in bed half the day, etc. but that should not ever be an option;

2. Reach out for help – Being out of work not by one’s choice is not something you want to discuss with the whole world. Yes, you can and most likely will have feelings of depression and anxiety regarding how you will survive financially for starters. When I was laid off, I reached out through networking to people I had done some work for before, friends, etc. The networking in many cases did not lead to any work, but at least I felt it was something I had to do;

3. Don’t let the job search consume you – It is real easy to get frustrated and even burned out at times with the job search. If you feel yourself falling into that trap, take a little break and walk away from it. Resort to an activity that relaxes you and go do it so that you’re not burned out sooner rather than later;

4. Reassess your career goals – When you’re out of work, what better time is there than to reassess where you need to go with your career? If your most recent job was a filler job, then you are more likely to already being reviewing your career. If the position was something that truly was part of your long-term career goals, then take the time to see if you need to get some more education to be more successful at it or if you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, what have you done when you were out of work that may be a good game plan for others going through the same thing right now?

Dave Thomas, who writes on items such as starting a small business and obtaining workers compensation insurance, writes extensively for online resource destination

Views: 405

Comment by Bill Schultz on April 6, 2012 at 2:00pm

I'll reply to the topic question:

I've lost a couple of friends by getting too involved in managing their job search.  

Now, I dole out advice carefully.  In other words I respond to questions but don't offer.

People come around at their own pace.

What I would add to your  good advice is Get out there!  Take a temp job or something.  Networking happens in the subway, the elevator, etc.  

Comment by James F. Jeter on April 9, 2012 at 11:40am

Excellent points. The one problem I see time and time again with my friends that ask for help is, they use the exact same resume for all applications. They do not tailor their resume for the specific job they are trying to get. Why? Most of them say it is too much that point, they are on their own!

Comment by Randall Scasny on April 9, 2012 at 12:30pm


This is a challenging subject any way you look at it. Since there is a personal relationship involved, I've found that one needs to be more sensitive and subtle in addressing it than in a paid, customer-service provider relationship.

Having said the above, let me try to be sensitive to your sincere posting: your comments are practical, logical, rational, etc., but they are not taking into account how a job seeker's psychology influences (and deteriorates his attitude) as a job search campaign fails to reap positive results.  I'm not a recruiter per se, but have for the past ten years operated a job search assistance service. What you describe in your posting is very typical of long-term job seekers (6 months or more). When they first start a search campaign, they are generally optimistic; but as time goes on, without a tangible result, they think about starting a business, going back to school, change careers; they finally become indecisive, yada, yada, yada. The critical point is when they begin isolating themselves to one degree or another and then trade their career goals with treading-water strategies, such as, applying for an unemployment extension.

Job seeking is really a system of causality. One takes actions (many little actions) that "should" reap some kind of result. So, the problem is not that the person has given up but that he has not obtained results from the actions he has taken. So, why would an experienced person who had no real problem in the past now have problems landing a job? That question must be answered to get him back on track again.

Just saying it's a bad job market is not good enough for these types of job seekers. One most give them  concrete solutions to make them see a path to moving forward. Here's how:

I spent about 3 years studying and tracking job seeker behavior when I began my business a decade ago. After studying job seeker behavior for 3 years, I saw that all job campaigns go through three phases described by a job-seeking problem:

Phase 1 (skills marketing): Apply to jobs, post resumes online but never get a recruiter/employer call back

Phase 2 (transitional): Get employer recruiter call backs but never offered onsite interviews

Phase 3 (final): Get onsite interviews but never get a job offer

With a 5 minute interview, I can place a job seeker in a phase. Then, I suggest concrete actions to take to move into the next phase. I have three articles on my website that indicate what actions to take given a job seeking problem: go here:

Using this system, I have frequently taken a job seeker who's been unemployed for 1 to 2 years and got their campaigns functioning again within 6 weeks.

Best of luck to your friend.

Randall Scasny
FS5 Consulting


Comment by Dave Thomas on April 9, 2012 at 12:34pm

Thank you for reading and posting comments. You all brought up good points, especially James. Sending out a "mass" resume is always a no-no, yet many people do it to skimp on time. Each resume should be crafted towards the company one is applying to. I at times found myself guilty of this and then the light in my head came on as to why I was getting little if any response.


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