Dear employed friends,
Not all of us are usually employed at the same time. When we are, that’s really fantastic. Still, the odds are not in our favor – especially these days. Real talk, it can just as easily be you on the hunt. It might even be you now.
As I write this, I have a job. A good number of well qualified friends do not.
When trying to be a good friend under varying job circumstances, let’s remember the following things:
Unless someone specifies they are open to relocating, don’t presume, no matter how long they’ve been hunting for a new gig. Not everyone is in the circumstances that make that doable, and even those that are may simply have reasons. Those reasons actually aren’t your business. Remember at any point they may change their mind about moving, or staying put. Whose life is it? Not yours. You don’t get to judge. If they ask you later about a gig in another area you mentioned and they first said no to it, you still don’t get to judge.
Everyone loves to forward job descriptions. Before forwarding a job description, answer the following:
- Do I have inside info on this job that would help a candidate?
- Can I actively connect the job seeker and the hiring people?
- Is this something the person would want to do? Have they ever expressed an interest in doing “Y” job?
- Is the only reason I’m not mentioning this gig because I think they’re “over qualified”? (People take jobs for a lot of reasons, that’s all I’m saying.)
People looking for jobs actually do look. For the unaware, unemployment benefits are contingent upon actively looking. Ask them if they’ve seen a gig at “X” company, and if the answer is no, ask if they want it. Don’t just forward!
Are you good at resume stuff? Career counseling? Know of network opportunities? Mention it. Just remember no one is obligated to take you up on anything.
Be a good friend! Just because money flow is different, doesn’t mean you get to decide what someone can and can’t afford. Invite your friends out. They may say no. This is approximately no big deal, and it isn’t about you (so don’t make it that way). If you have the money to do so, consider picking up the tab once in a while without making a big deal out of it. Don’t always pick up the tab though. People are funny with money and then things get weird and unbalanced friendship wise. Don’t be that friend. You can also do stuff that doesn’t cost a lot (coffee vs. dinner, happy hour), which is a good life tip in general. Time with friends is the most important part, not who makes the most money (and if you have that sort of relationship with your friends, hey, whatever works for you) or has the better job at any moment in time.
If you fall into good fortune, be it a new job, raise, etc. – don’t hide it. Your friends are friends regardless of where they’re at in life, which means they should be supportive to the degree you aren’t being tacky about things. Balance it out, that’s all I’m saying.
Let people rant. Also remember it’s not a contest about who’s life sucks more, or who has been out of work longer, or how long it took you to find a job last time you were out looking (hint: no one cares). If you aren’t good about showing moral support without somehow making it about you, you don’t have to say anything at all. Some people just aren’t good about it. Be respectful.
Remember life is funny. Be nice. Be generous when you can. Lest you think I am talking out of my hat, I’ve been there. I have been underemployed, and I have also done my time on the unemployed road. I’m also not silly enough to never think I won’t be in that circumstance again. This is why I write this for me now and also to you so when I am looking for a job and get too shy to assert myself on this particular topic of the things that bother me. Now you know, and now we all know. Let’s use that knowledge well.