Four things to say (and not) to a laid-off friend


Here’s Why has had some requests for a reprint of a post we made elsewhere this winter, and the nice thing is that the requests are coming from employed people worried about their friends. It’s about what to say and what not to say to those who aren’t working.

We’ve heard these comments often, and it’s difficult to say “please don’t” when people mean well.

FOUR THINGS NOT TO SAY (and here’s why):

With your skills, you’ll find something soon.
Though it’s meant as a compliment, it actually underscores the fact that “soon” is dragging out longer and longer.

You’re not working yet? Geez, I’D hire you.
Then will you?

Chin up!
Please don’t say hang in there, be strong, etc. It takes formidable strength for the long-term unemployed just to make ends meet and some weeks, just to muster a grin.

Unemployment insurance is a crutch. You need to take something, anything.
Incidentally, HW recommends cutting ties with anyone who says this to you personally. You don’t need it and you will feel better instantly.

If you believe it, as many do, have a heart and don’t actually say it to (or near) an unemployed friend.

This comment does not seem to be meant well, in spite of the speakers’ apparent belief that tough-love-will-heal-you is the answer. Just this week HW received yet another rejection letter stating that more than a thousand people had applied for the single available opening (and we felt honored to have received a response at all).

If assistance with paying or offsetting rent and utilities is a crutch that keeps us from working, then HW is Tiny Tim.

FOUR THINGS YOU SHOULD SAY

Let’s grab coffee!
There’s something normal about grabbing coffee with a friend, as a group of us noted recently. It doesn’t need to be the $5-per-cup kind, either. It’s the company and the venue that count, the being part of a familiar world. Do a friend a favor though – if it’s just two of you, try not to schedule it when you have to ditch for work and leave that person alone at the table. Double ouch.

Let’s go for a walk.
Yay, something that doesn’t cost money! One of the perils of job-hunting via the e-world is lack of exercise. This way we can keep up with friends, not go broke and get the circulation going. It’s a three-point feel-good outing.

I love your strength/attitude/resourcefulness!
Most people really just want to be acknowledged as well-rounded individuals after months of rejection. Is there something you have always admired about a friend? Tell that person. It will help. You may even spark an idea that could be added to the next cover letter.

How are you doing?
That’s it. Nice and simple. The majority of your friends won’t bore you with the gory details, unless they are the type who did so when you were all working. But it is so nice to be asked!

A note to the unemployed: You can initiate any of these four suggestions yourself, and you’ll still feel better.

Got any other ideas? Please add them in the comments section below.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What does one do when a friend is recently unemployed; and you offer to assist him with his search and resume? He sends his resume. You begin to offer suggestions. He then tells you his eleven page (you got it) resume now reduced to five (yep) pages was done by a professional resume writer.

    I took my own advice for a change nodded and shut my mouth. You can’t convince someone with facts when their mind is already made up. Results so fsr with the five page resume: None.

  2. Ed, I don’t see what else you could have done.

    I think it was kind of you to offer, too, but you can’t help someone who won’t see reality.

    You bring up an interesting flip side to this issue. What kinds of things do job-seekers do that give their employed friends headaches?


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