How can I best support those in my inner circle who have recently been laid off?

Elaine Varelas guides on how best to support those impacted by the recent tsunami of job losses, especially in the tech industry.

Q:  So many friends and family members in my inner circle have recently suffered a job loss after being laid off in the tech industry.  What is the best way for me to be supportive and sensitive during this incredibly difficult time for them, apart from recommending them for openings within my organization and leveraging my professional network?

A:  You must be a great friend and family member to be concerned about people close to you who suffered a job loss.  Whether it’s the tech industry or ANY industry, people need support when job loss hits them. A job loss is among the top five of most impactful losses and stressful events in an individual’s life and unfortunately many tech employees especially have suffered job loss multiple times. 

What people need for support is an opportunity to talk about the loss, an opportunity to talk about what they want to do in the future, and an opportunity to talk about how difficult a job search can be.  No one wants to be pitied.  No one wants to hear, “That’s got to be especially hard at the holidays”.  It’s especially hard ALL the time.

And by extending an offer of “How can I help you?” is a wonderful open-ended offer to those impacted and providing some very specific ways to help can be even more powerful. Put what you can do right out there.  “I am going to check my company’s job openings to see if anything might be a good fit“ and always add “does that sound okay?”  If you can open your Outlook contacts, open your network of LinkedIn contacts, or share ideas about other networking or professional associations, etc., these could all have great potential in helping your friend or family member get job leads and most importantly, land faster.

You can also send articles that you read about careers, job searching, etc. to the individual along with a thoughtful note, “Thinking of you”. Be on the lookout for jobs that look perfect for them and forward them along, just in case they haven’t come across them yet.  Invite someone to go to lunch. Your meeting should take place where you will not be interrupted. Find a space prior to the meeting where you can deliver the message without being interrupted and letting them talk about their job search, or not, is another way you could support and encourage them.  Suggest a walk in the park to get their mind off of things and get a nature boost.

Encourage friends and family impacted to take advantage of the support that’s available to them.  Whether it’s an outplacement firm, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a job search support group held in a community center or through a religious organization, or the career center at the local unemployment office, it’s important to remember that job searching can be very solitary and that they don’t need to do it alone.  Job searching is much more effective when you are surrounded by supportive, like-minded people.

Also bear in mind that now is not the time to ask people to pay back money or to host events recognizing that you will have no insight into what their financial wellness is.  Recognize that it may be something that is significantly impacted particularly not knowing how long their job search will be.  Your family and friends will appreciate your support and encouragement during this difficult transition period. Helping them recognize they have more value than their former title is more valued than you can know.


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